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Curtains close on Ringling Bros. circus in NY

04 June 2017

The clowns, animal acts and acrobats of the storied Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus took their final bow at an arena outside NY on Sunday, with a space-themed balancing act kicking off the farewell performance of the "Greatest Show on Earth" after almost 150 years.

The decision to close the circus was made in January when a combination of high operating costs and lower ticket sales spelled doom for the American institution.

The show had a tough time bouncing back after the show was forced to phase out its famous elephant performance due to harsh criticism from animal rights group. "It has been the home for performers that will go on start their own circuses, and in many ways might be cultivating the next greatest show on earth".

"People I think, will remember the circus, but also there are modern circuses that owe a huge debt to the Ringlings' and always will - the Cirque Du Soleil, many of them".

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"We'll never get a chance to take our grandchildren to the circus", she said. "Thank you for all your hard work and all the joy you brought to us all".

"In the 50 years that our family has been producing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, over a quarter of a billion people have seen the shows", said Feld, accompanied by his two young grandchildren.

The big top came down in NY in front of a sold-out crowd at Nassau Coliseum after 146 years, NBC News reported.

Big-cat trainer Alexander Lacey halted his performance to address, if indirectly, the animal-rights groups whose protests and lawsuits against Ringling led the circus to pull its Asian elephants from all shows in May 2016. She has spent the past 10 years organising demonstrations against Ringling as a campaigner with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Ringling Brothers' elephants are now being housed at a special facility outside Orlando.

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It is all tragic to Gary Payne, a former president of the 2,000-member Circus Fans Association of America.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions, said Rev. George "Jerry" Hogan, Ringling's circus chaplain".

The Ringling cast assembled in the finale of the final performance on Sunday, as it does at the conclusion of every tour, to sing Auld Lang Syne. Feld said some will be transferred to the some of the company's more profitable shows like Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live!, and that it will help with job placement, resumes and, in some cases, housing relocation.

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