The Ringling Bros. circus is closing down, and fans have been attending the last shows in certain cities to say goodbye.

RINGLING BROS. PERFORMS LAST SHOW

The circus, which has been performing since 1871, is closing down. The family-run company cited declining ticket sales and increased operating costs as the reason, but they have also been under major criticism for years because of animal rights.

The circus features acrobats, clowns, and motorcyclists, but also lions, tigers and horses. Up until last year, some acts also featured elephants, but the circus abandoned that due to animal rights activist concerns.

Circuses began more than 200 years ago as forms of entertainment, and employed individuals who could do things that no one else could do. Back in 1866, recluse poet Emily Dickinson wrote, “Friday I tasted life. It was a vast morsel. A circus passed the house.”

Showman P.T. Barnum and ringmaster James Anthony Bailey began working together in the late 1800s alongside the Feld family. “There really aren’t a lot of brands that have existed that long,” says Juliette Feld, chief operating officer of Feld Entertainment. “It’s older than Coca-Cola.”

The circus of course changed with the times, beginning with acts featuring horses, then bicycles and Model Ts, and now they incorporate video screens and projections.

The final show of the Ringling Bros. famed circus will take place on May 21 in Uniondale, New York.

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