Ringling Brothers circus to close for good in May

Company executives say the American spectacle was impacted by a variety of factors

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey will be closing their circus this summer.

After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Paul Kenney of Springfield, told 22News, “It was the clowns and elephants and lions and tigers. Those types of things. If they don’t see it in a circus unless you have a major zoo, you aren’t going to see it. So it’s just unfortunate for kids that are going to grow up and not see these types of things.”

The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus said that the show will close forever in May.

Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born.

The troupes used to travel across America by train wowing audiences with their entertainment and exotic animals. They would actually stop here at the railyard in West Springfield to unload those animals and elephants marching them across the Memorial Bridge to what was then the Springfield Civic Center.

Company executives say the iconic American spectacle was impacted by a variety of factors. These include declining attendance, high operating costs, and public protests by animal rights groups. The circus removed its elephant act last April after a long legal battle.

Sara Idris from Springfield, said, “I guess back in the day my parents just didn’t take us and if I could go now I think I would want to see the acrobats and whatnot but I don’t think I would want to see the animals being abused like that.”

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7th and in Uniondale, New York, on May 21st.