Ringling Bros. Circus Closes After 146 Years

The traveling circus cited a shift in public opinion, falling ticket sales, and pressure from animal-rights activists as the driving forces in their decision to close.

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, often called “The Cruelest Show on Earth” by animal activists, has announced that they will be closing their doors forever on May 21. The traveling circus has faced declining ticket sales over the past few years, but has seen an even more dramatic decline since May of 2016, when they removed elephants from their show after a long legal battle and pressure from activists. While activists are celebrating the closure of a company that has profited off the use of exotic animals for entertainment for 146 years, concerns have been raised over what will happen to the animals after the closing—the circus has simply stated that the animals will be placed in suitable homes. This landmark decision by Ringling Bros. demonstrates the power of animal activists in affecting corporate profits and the ways public consciousness is shifting around the issue of animal exploitation.