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Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years

It’s an institution that goes back to the 1800’s – to the days of PT Barnum, and on Sunday, after almost a century and half, the Ringling Brothers Circus packed up its tent.During Sunday’s final performance, Alexander Lacey, the circus’s big cat trainer, addressed the animal-rights issue directly, pausing from his act to tell the crowd that the circus had bred, raised and cared for 500 lions and tigers – on display Sunday night, he said, were the circus’s ninth generation of tigers and 11th generation of lions.Ringling Brothers Circus took its final bow Sunday night in NY. He drove from his home in CT for the final show at 7pm Sunday, the last of about 350 Ringling performances he has attended.Feld cited falling ticket cells – brought about in part by drops in attendance after the circus no longer included elephants in its shows – and higher made the company unable to continue the production.O’Donnell says that early attractions of the circus included demonstrations of electricity, “the automobile, what they billed as a flying machine that we now know as an airplane, recorded sound, moving images – all of those wonderful innovations in our country’s history were brought to a lot of America and particularly small-town America through the medium of the circus”. After Ringling retired its last pachyderms to a company-owned elephant conservation centre in Florida, ticket sales declined much more than Feld expected, a spokesman said. Once Ringling Brothers made its announcement in February that the touring show was ending, performances quickly sold out and visits ticked up at Circus World.So when Feld Entertainment executives delivered the news that the circus was shutting down completely, it landed hard.Even in a press releases announcing performances of the circus in Racine in the mid 1920s, the promoters lay it on thick. Its outer-space-themed show Sunday featured BMX bikes, Segways and, for the first year, an ice floor and skaters.Feld, his voice sometimes shaking, said that in the 50 years that his family had produced the circus, over a quarter-billion people had seen its shows. That show was the more traditional, three-ring circus, while the one performing this weekend had a narrative storyline. And Barnum & Bailey Circus, said back in January.The circus which began in 1871 as as P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome was bought by its current parent company, Feld Entertainment in 1967. He led the circus performers, crew and audience through an emotional rendition of Auld Lang Syne.Circus fans can watch final show online here.Stay on topic – This helps keep the thread focused on the discussion at hand.Be Civil – It’s OK to have a difference in opinion but there’s no need to be a jerk.