XTREME High Wire Walkers, Mustafa Danguir and Anna Lebedeva, of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey exchange wedding vows 30 feet above the NRG Stadium floor on a high wire that is no wider than a human thumb at NRG Park on July 26, 2016 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey—Getty Images
By Mahita Gajanan
January 15, 2017

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end its famed “The Greatest Show on Earth” after 146 years in May.

Declining attendance, changing tastes in the American public, fights with animal rights groups, and high operating costs have combined to make the show no longer viable, company executives told the Associated Press.

The circus has been an integral part of American entertainment since the mid-1800s. Known for its exotic animals and daring acrobatic shows, the circus became wholesome fun for the family by the mid-1900s. The rising popularity of television, video games and the internet meant waning interest in the second part of the century.

“The competitor in many ways is time,” Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the circus owner, said. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price. So you’ve got all these things working against it.”


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