The End of Ringling Bros. Is Not the End of Circuses

Feld Entertainment remains committed to live performances in spite of its decision to permanently close the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May, company leaders said Monday. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image. The Feld family, which bought Ringling in 1967, will still operate the conservation center.

"The legacy of Ringling Bros. will exist in that it has infused all other live entertainment, and it was the foundation not just of our company but also live entertainment in America", Feld told reporters at a news conference at the company's headquarters. They said more municipalities were enacting laws that made it very hard to use elephants in shows.

Now, of course, Feld Entertainment, the owner of the iconic brand has announced that the Ringling Bros. circus will have its final performances now through May.

Gold also noted that Feld had fought costly battles with animal rights activists in every city it operated in.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, acknowledged the move was "bittersweet" for the Felds but said: "I applaud their decision to move away from an institution grounded on inherently inhumane wild animal acts". And over a dozen municipalities have passed their own prohibitions. Over the last eight to 10 years, he said, they've seen a decline in ticket sales.

"We hope you will come to celebrate this American icon for one last time before our tours conclude", Feld said in a letter posted on the Ringling Bros. website. Juliette Feld said the company will help employees with job placement and resumes.

Logistically, the company said, the enterprise has become unsustainable. He said over the next four months, fans will be able to say goodbye at the remaining shows.

"Cirque du Soleil came out of nowhere 30 years ago, and it was a different way of looking at circuses, a different way of touring it, because it wasn't on a train, it didn't have animals", he said. It added elements from its other, popular shows, such as motorbike daredevils and ice skaters.

"We're expecting to have good crowds", Robertson said.