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Ringling Bros. Circus Will Close Forever In May

BY JEN CHUNG IN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ON JAN 15, 2017 12:01 AM
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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performers in Orlando, Florida on January 14, 2017 (AP)
 
 
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The company that runs the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced today that it will shut down the 146-year-old show in a few months. Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, wrote in a letter that he and his family "made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year." And it's the elephants' fault, partially.

"Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company," he explained in the letter (the full text of the letter is below).

 
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During tonight's #CircusXTREME show in Orlando, Kristen Michelle Wilson made her debut (and history!) as Ringling's first female Ringmaster

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The AP reports, "The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami," and suggests that the circus has become less of a cultural "must-see" for today's families:

But as the 20th century went on, kids became less and less enthralled. Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image.

 

"The competitor in many ways is time," said Feld, adding that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks - such as providing a traveling school for performers' children- are throwbacks to another era. "It's a different model that we can't see how it works in today's world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price. So you've got all these things working against it."

The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967. The show was just under 3 hours then. Today, the show is 2 hours and 7 minutes, with the longest segment - a tiger act - clocking in at 12 minutes.

"Try getting a 3- or 4-year-old today to sit for 12 minutes," he said.

Elephants were removed from the circus last year—two years earlier than initially planned—after years of animal cruelty accusations, which Feld Entertainment denied, though elephants were still being handled with "bullhooks."

 

 

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Three elephants and performer Nicole Esqueda in 2009 (Katie Sokoler / Gothamist)

 

Last month, Forbes wrote about Feld and his billion-dollar empire—the company also has Disney on Ice and Monster Truck shows—and Feld had said, "The show has always evolved and changed. It's been through every kind of economic cycle, political cycle."

Now, a "visibly emotional" Feld told the AP, "We tried all these different things to see what would work, and supported it with a lot of funding as well, and we weren't successful in finding the solution."

The last touring date for Ringling Bros. circus is at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, with the final show on May 21.

"We heard about this new, insane-sounding circus debuting next Friday and realized there's no way we can compete." ?https://twitter.com/apsouthregion/status/820469792285093892 

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A message from the Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®

After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.

Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Circus XTREME will conclude its tour at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., on May 7, 2017, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Out Of This World will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 21, 2017. We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude.

Our company provides quality, live family entertainment, and we invite you to bring your family to one of our other events, including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!, as well as future productions.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has served as inspiration for all of the live entertainment produced at Feld Entertainment. We learned from the circus, and applied those learnings to our other productions. Without Ringling Bros., we wouldn’t have the vibrant live entertainment company that we have today. Ringling Bros. will always be part of Feld Entertainment, and its spirit will live on in every production and project we do.

Sincerely,

Kennth Feld

 

Update: PETA has claimed victory:

PETA is asking all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times.

 
As of May, the saddest show on earth for wild animals will end. Thirty-six years of PETA protests, of documenting animals left to die, beaten animals, and much more, has reduced attendance to the point of no return.

 

All other animal circuses, roadside zoos, and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.

Thank you to everyone who has picked up a protest sign, passed out leaflets, written letters, shared videos, called legislators, spoken to family, and been part of this relentless pursuit of freedom for animals. This would not have happened without you.

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2 hours ago, Road Runner said:

Yes.  Imagine before TV and movies:  the circus coming to town must have been a huge event.

It was.  I remember being a tiny child, and everybody telling me how excited I should be to see it.  I wasn't, not really, but I really liked walking by the elephants, who were displayed on the way to the restrooms and concessions.  You could get within a few feet of them, which was really cool.

Back before cable tv, the internet, or social media, just seeing elephants was enough to justify the "big deal" label.

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43 minutes ago, Kzoo said:

A victim of the PC animal rights crowd.

Yeah, as much as I believe against animal cruelty, PETA is a group of !@#$ing wankers who have no credibility with me.

For every one truth, they spout a crap-ton of lies to back it up and make people join them from emotional response.  So without independent review, I can't say anything about what the circus does or doesn't do with their animals.

Let's just say that when you compare farms to Nazi death camps, you tend to lose all credibility in my mind. 

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My dad didn't agree with the treatment of the animals and was way ahead of the times as he boycotted the circus in the 60's.  So he never took us.  When my daughter was about 3 my wife and I took her to the circus and little did we know she is deathly afraid of clowns or anyone/thing in costume.  Freaks her out still... So needless to say it wasn't a fun day as we had pretty good seats close to the arena floor.  She spent the show with her face buried in my chest... That was the one and only time I ever went. 

 

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My Mom used to take me.  I enjoyed it as a kid, but as an adolescent I told my Mom that it was cruel and we shouldn't go.  This did not sit well with my Mom.  She was very angry at me for my opinion on the circus.  They would whip those big cats and it bothered me. 

I did like the clowns.  Clowns are funny.

If people want to see safari animals, they should go to Africa and see them in a wildlife preserve. 

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Yes, my parents used to take us when the circus came to Madison Square Garden. My favorite part was the little flashlights they'd sell.  Nice metal flashlights with a red cover on a string that you could spin around to create little red lights throughout the audience.  Long before he days of safe plastic glow sticks. 

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yes, I've been to that circus and to the Shriner's Circus several times each

this just goes to show what sort of degenerates today's liberals are. They won't let the elephants travel because they won't let ivory through customs and then they're too busy with their stupid cell phones to go to a circus. :facepalm:

Everybody under the age of 40 is a degenerate pervert :angry:

and stay the fuck off my lawn :angry::angry:

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I remember going to the Shriners Circus many times as a child. The thing I remember most was the smell of the elephants and fresh roasted peanuts combined. :wacko:

As an adult, I find myself thinking "not my monkeys, not my circus" every time my employer made a business destroying decision.

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4 hours ago, Nate said:

 

Everybody under the age of 40 is a degenerate pervert :angry:

and stay the fuck off my lawn :angry::angry:

...they have special degenerate circuses now without elephants.  Cirque is running about six different shows in Vegas even as I type. I really like Cirque, so you know it must be degenerate friendly.:)

 

 

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Yeah, I only went to the circus once (Grandma took us to the "Big Apple Circus" at the community college in Schenectady).  

While I was there I ran into an English teacher from school - I can therefore deduce that I was at least 14.  So I think I was beyond the prime circus-going age.  I remember being underwhelmed.  (But Grandma loved to take us places - that was nice)

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