Story: Ben Wolverton
ELLENTOWN, FL -
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey announced yesterday that they will close their traveling circus after 146 years.
In the 1860’s James Bailey and James Cooper started the Cooper and Bailey Circus. Then, in 1875, P.T. Barnum’s name was used for the P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome. Finally, on March 29, 1919, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Combined Shows debuted in New York City.
Their long history, however, was recently marred with controversy. CNN reported that in 2011, Feld Entertainment agreed to pay $270,000 to the US Department of Agriculture for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act. The company didn’t admit wrongdoing but promised to implement new training for all personnel who handle animals.
The circus evolved, but not quickly enough, citing falling ticket sales as the reason for the closure.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the circus got its first African American Ringleader, and not until earlier this week that the first female ringleader debuted.
The company posted on their website yesterday that they are "grateful to the hundreds of millions of fans who have experienced Ringling Brothers over the years. Between now and May, we will give them one last chance to experience the joy and wonder of Ringling Brothers.”
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