After 146 years, the entertainment group is finally closing its doors.
In an unforeseen move by the famous circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey owners have decided to shut down “The Greatest Show On Earth” forever after plummeting ticket sales no longer allowed the show to be viable.
Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros., announced the closure to performers on Saturday night before releasing a statement explaining the reason for their decision, which he has said is hard for him and his family.
When the group announced last year that they would be ending the use of elephants in their shows it seemed to be a great opportunity for growth again because animal advocates might no longer boycott the show. However, what the entertainment group found was quite the opposite. Juliette Feld, Kenneth’s daughter, and the company’s chief operating officer, said,
“We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Bros. was getting to see elephants. We stand by that decision. We know it was the right decision. This was what audiences wanted to see and it definitely played a major role.”
Ironically, getting rid of the elephants wound up being worse for the circus than anything else. Feld Entertainment did make the right decision with the elephants, but their existing animal ‘performers’ continued to suffer, which may have caused animal advocates to steer clear even after the elephants left. Those remaining animals, including lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos, and llamas, will apparently be sent to “suitable” homes while the elephants will stay at their Center for Elephants Conservation.
According to the company, they tried a number of methods to keep the show relevant and appealing to the modern public to no avail. An interactive app was developed, the first female ringmaster was hired, and other popular elements of their successful shows, such as motorbike daredevils, were incorporated to keep the show fresh. Nothing significantly improved attendance or interest in the show, whose sales have been declining in the past 10 years.
The show will officially close in May after another 30 or so shows in major cities. The decision was based on a combination of issues, including high operating costs and changing public tastes. Approximately 500 people perform and work on both touring shows for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and most will be out of a job after the show performs its last show. Some performers will be used in other profitable shows that the entertainment group manages, like Monster Jam and Disney on Ice. Thankfully, they will help with housing relocation for the workers that lived strictly on the rail cars that transported the performers and crew.
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