America’s largest circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, will fold up its Big Top for good after 146 years, leaving the industry reeling and contemplating its future.
CGTN’s Steve Mort reports.
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Ringling Bros. circus to shut down due to declining sales, protestsAmerica’s largest circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey, will fold up its Big Top for good after 146 years, leaving the industry reeling and contemplating its future. CGTN’s Steve Mort reports.
In the face of declining attendance and years of animal rights protests, Ringling’s owner Feld Entertainment took a business gamble last May, and retired its Asian elephants. But the company said that decision ended up hitting ticket sales even harder.
In Florida, where the circus is headquartered, the region is steeped in circus history. It’s home to the Circus Ring of Fame which honors the greats of circus performance. But, when the Ringling Circus announced it would be closing its doors, it sparked a passionate debate about the future of the industry.
“Ringing Brothers was just the first giant to fall. And we believe the rest of the animal circuses are going to be going out of business,” Bryan Wilson from Animal Rights Foundation of Florida said.
Animal rights campaigners said dozens of countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas have some form of national ban on animal performances, with the U.S. to following suit.
Activists point to Canada’s Cirque du Soleil as a model for the future. It performs in nearly 50 countries and uses only human performers. But, industry veterans like Lee Stevens circuses are just not the same without animals, with some veterans predicting traditional circuses will make a come back.
“I think there’ll be a resurgence. The public wants it, the public likes it. There’s many smaller tented circuses that play very small communities, and they’re thriving,” Stevens said.
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