A long-running piece of Americana will disappear in May: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, sadly notes Grumpy Editor.
Performances by exotic animals along with death-defying acrobats and flashy costumes --- for years set up under a “big top” --- have been a staple of entertainment since the mid-1800s. Performers and animals traveled by train and were greeted with much fanfare in towns around the U.S.
High operating costs and the decline of ticket sales "made the circus an unsustainable business for the company," says CEO Kenneth Feld.
A major factor in declining attendance was mounting criticism from animal rights groups that triggered phasing out of performing elephant acts last year. The elephants were sent to a 200-acre conservation farm in central Florida between Orlando and Tampa.
Feld points out after "the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop" in ticket sales.
Several animal rights groups repeatedly criticized, picketed and sued Ringling Bros. for its treatment of performing animals.
The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), spent years petitioning against the treatment of circus animals.
The Humane Society of the United States, another longtime critic of the show's animal welfare practices, acknowledges Ringling Bros. made changes over the years, but asserts the changes didn't happen quickly enough.
"It's just not acceptable any longer to cart wild animals from city to city and have them perform silly yet coercive stunts," says Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. "I know this is bittersweet for the Feld family, but I applaud their decision to move away from an institution grounded on inherently inhumane wild animal acts.”
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A problem with repeats on TV:
CNN headline at bottom of screen, three hours AFTER President Barack Obama made his farewell speech:
Awaiting President Obama’s final speech to the nation.