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Old 01-15-2017, 12:13 AM   #1
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Unhappy Ringling Bros. Circus, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ to Close After 146 Years

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ELLENTON, Fla. — After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May.

The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.

“There isn’t any one thing,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami.

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7 and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.

The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.

By midcentury, the circus was routine, wholesome family entertainment. But as the 20th century went on, kids became less and less enthralled. Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn’t have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image.

“The competitor in many ways is time,” said Feld, adding that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children— are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price. So you’ve got all these things working against it.”

The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967. The show was just under 3 hours then. Today, the show is 2 hours and 7 minutes, with the longest segment — a tiger act — clocking in at 12 minutes.

“Try getting a 3- or 4-year-old today to sit for 12 minutes,” he said.

Feld and his daughter Juliette Feld, who is the company’s chief operating officer, acknowledged another reality that led to the closing, and it was the one thing that initially drew millions to the show: the animals. Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary.

In May of 2016, after a long and costly legal battle, the company removed the elephants from the shows and sent the animals to live on a conservation farm in Central Florida. The animals had been the symbol of the circus since Barnum brought an Asian elephant named Jumbo to America in 1882. In 2014, Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from groups including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year fight over allegations that circus employees mistreated elephants.

By the time the elephants were removed, public opinion had shifted somewhat. Los Angeles prohibited the use of bull-hooks by elephant trainers and handlers, as did Oakland, California. The city of Asheville, North Carolina nixed wild or exotic animals from performing in the municipally owned, 7,600-seat U.S. Cellular Center.

Attendance has been dropping for 10 years, said Juliette Feld, but when the elephants left, there was a “dramatic drop” in ticket sales. Paradoxically, while many said they didn’t want big animals to perform in circuses, many others refused to attend a circus without them.

“We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Bros. was getting to see elephants,” she said. “We stand by that decision. We know it was the right decision. This was what audiences wanted to see and it definitely played a major role.”

The Felds say their existing animals — lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and llamas — will go to suitable homes. Juliette Feld says the company will continue operating the Center for Elephant Conservation.

Some 500 people perform and work on both touring shows. A handful will be placed in positions with the company’s other, profitable shows — it owns Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live, among other things — but most will be out of a job. Juliette Feld said the company will help employees with job placement and resumes. In some cases where a circus employee lives on the tour rail car (the circus travels by train), the company will also help with housing relocation.

Kenneth Feld became visibly emotional while discussing the decision with a reporter. He said over the next four months, fans will be able to say goodbye at the remaining shows.

In recent years, Ringling Bros. tried to remain relevant, hiring its first African American ringmaster, then its first female ringmaster, and also launching an interactive app. It added elements from its other, popular shows, such as motorbike daredevils and ice skaters. But it seemingly was no match for Pokemon Go and a generation of kids who desire familiar brands and YouTube celebrities.

“We tried all these different things to see what would work, and supported it with a lot of funding as well, and we weren’t successful in finding the solution,” said Kenneth Feld.
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Old 01-15-2017, 12:51 AM   #2
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This is so sad. Everything is going away that used to matter to people. Heaven forbid any child sits anywhere longer than 5 minutes without looking at their parents phone, tablet, or whatever.
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Old 01-15-2017, 10:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordy
This is so sad. Everything is going away that used to matter to people. Heaven forbid any child sits anywhere longer than 5 minutes without looking at their parents phone, tablet, or whatever.


Yes in a way that is true . But people have been saying that type of thing for decades about the "Current generation."
When TV came along, it was just like cell-phones are today. It was said to be something that kids will just be sitting in front of and watching and letting their brains waste away.
But now with cell phones and such, people are lamenting that the good old days of sitting in front of the TV are gone.

Of course, computers and cell phones are an extension of what TV used to be. It changed things in that you can take "TV" with you wherever you go.
It probably did not change things as much as we think.
People have been complaining about kid's short attention span for decades if not centuries.
We are just blaming it on different things.

Yes depending on what kinds of people utilize technology such as TV and the internet, and how they utilize it, it can be damaging and counterproductive.

But I find that the internet and computers and I-phones are so wonderful and liberating. I don't spend a lot of time gabbing on the phone whether a regular old fashioned landline phone or a cell phone. I use these gadgets for more practical reasons.
I can take a small internet tablet with me and be able to study different things with educational apps. I have been studying to be a EKG technician and there are apps that helped me learn about the electrical impulses and the meanings of different heart rhythms.
I don't need to bring big bulky books with me. I can at least refresh my memory about certain subjects with certain apps or when there is WiFI, I can go to educational videos and sites on the internet.

So I am one person who is very grateful for such technology even with all the problems there can also be with them, such as potential hacking, and
malfunctions.

You can say that the invention of the wheel only causes people to drive fast and kill other people.
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Old 01-15-2017, 11:19 AM   #4
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The circus is a freak show. Reality is now a freak show so the circus is no longer needed.
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Old 01-15-2017, 11:31 AM   #5
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Old 01-15-2017, 02:47 PM   #6
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First Big Apple Circus, now Ringling Bros
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Old 01-15-2017, 03:25 PM   #7
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It was about time, don't you think! There is something about animals with
clothes on and animals doing tricks to entertain humans, that just turns me off! It always has! I don't like to see animals in cages, or, contained in any
way. I feel the same way about SeaWorld!
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:07 PM   #8
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I saw the circus more than once when I was young...And I grew-up in the 80's and 90's!

If RB/B&B would've been more humane with the whole thing...It may still have strength!

The circus is now gone with the wind alongside with SatAM Cartoons and the Sega...
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Old 01-15-2017, 05:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MISST3
It was about time, don't you think! There is something about animals with
clothes on and animals doing tricks to entertain humans, that just turns me off! It always has! I don't like to see animals in cages, or, contained in any
way. I feel the same way about SeaWorld!


As far as animals being made to dress up and do tricks, I do agree.

But that aside there is the fact that circuses, The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus specifically, "jumped the shark" long ago.

Reportedly, it used to be that when the circus came to town, practically the entire town would stop what it was doing, and businesses would close, and it would be like a holiday so that everyone could take a day off to watch the circus.
The circus is an entertainment form that lost its importance with the advent of TV and recorded music. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus even started having its ringmaster sing in a very contemporary way back in the 70s . As of most recent, the circus even has break dancers. It has incorporated a modern style that is just is not fitting, and it seems that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus has been trying to attract Generation x-ers and Generation y-ers and millennials.

It is like a TV show that had been on the air for a long time and the time to cancel it had come.

It is best that it no longer continues as a cultural shadow of its former self. It is as your grandfather lived to be 147 years old but is on life support and can't move, or talk or enjoy life.
Why celebrate his birthday and make it seem as if it is wonderful that he continues to get older and has lived another year? It is way past time for him to go to sleep for good. It is for the better
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Old 01-15-2017, 06:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCleveland
I saw the circus more than once when I was young...And I grew-up in the 80's and 90's!

If RB/B&B would've been more humane with the whole thing...It may still have strength!

The circus is now gone with the wind alongside with SatAM Cartoons and the Sega...

What happened with the rest of your comment?

Anyway, I have stopped watching Saturday morning TV decades ago when I was in my very late teens. Since then, I did occasionally just tune in to see what kind of shows were on. I was not sure what to make of what happened. It seemed there were no cartoons except maybe for a time slot for the very very old Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny or other such cartoons on certain TV stations.
One of the last "Kids shows" I just caught while tuning in during the earlier 2000s to literally just see what was being shown to kids or anyone who watches early morning Saturday TV, was what seemed to be a kid's version of "Survivor" in which "tween" kids (perhaps in their very early teens) were put to pretend they are on a deserted island and see which of them succeeds in doing "challenges" and which one gets eliminated or "voted out" and which one is left as the last kid on the island.
I did not watch it all but just enough to get the idea that it was a version of the reality show "Survivor" for kids and teens.
I recently saw some Saturday morning TV shows that seem to be meant to teach kids about the wild, and the environment and shows them how there are people who work caring for injured seals and pelicans and other such animals and then releasing them back to the wild. But now that you mention it, I guess I realize that the Saturday morning kids shows of the 1960s and 1970s ( the ones I grew up with) are extinct.

I would not know if it is a totally bad thing. What else could be done?
The Saturday cartoons of the 70s really got to be all the same. "Archie" (the cartoon teenager) was one of the last original kid's TV character. Other cartoon TV shows were just rehashes of each other.
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Old 01-15-2017, 06:17 PM   #11
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There is an answer for making the circus relevant for modern audiences. It's called Cirque de Soleil!
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Old 01-15-2017, 06:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by um
What happened with the rest of your comment?


That WAS the end of my comment for the most part!

Other things like it...Like RB/B&B, and I might add video stores, pizza parlors, and drive-ins, are gone or mostly gone!

I feel like I'm the last generation that knew the joy of these obsolete entertainment.
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Old 01-15-2017, 07:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrCleveland
That WAS the end of my comment for the most part!

Other things like it...Like RB/B&B, and I might add video stores, pizza parlors, and drive-ins, are gone or mostly gone!

I feel like I'm the last generation that knew the joy of these obsolete entertainment.

I feel the same but the kids today are different. I teach religious ed and I'm going to a meeting discussing how to change with the times and technology is key. Kids today don't care about the circus. I used to go as a child but haven't in years but had a friend who traveled with as her husband was a clown (he even graduated from clown college).
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Old 01-18-2017, 01:53 PM   #14
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Computers and video games are what occupies a kids mind nowadays. It comes as no surprise that real entertainment doesn't appeal to them anymore. I guess Ringling Bros, can be happy that most people through the years, including me, didn't feel the same way as some people do, otherwise they would have closed shop years ago.

The Circus was what kids had when Computers and Video games didn't exist.
Even kids needed a break from long school hours and always being told what to do by their parents, and hop scotch, Hide N Seek, marbles and playing at the parks playground was fun, but the Circus was the Circus. It was special to a kid.
It brought life long memories. And it wasn't just animals dressed in clothing. It was also the hi wire acts, the thrill of the other acts as well. And the suspense of the hi wire performers falling or not. The clowns making us laugh. The dogs jumping up on a horses back while the horse was running in a circle. There was so much more to watch. I am really gonna miss it.
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Old 01-18-2017, 02:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flying Dutchman
Computers and video games are what occupies a kids mind nowadays. It comes as no surprise that real entertainment doesn't appeal to them anymore. I guess Ringling Bros, can be happy that most people through the years, including me, didn't feel the same way as some people do, otherwise they would have closed shop years ago.

The Circus was what kids had when Computers and Video games didn't exist.
Even kids needed a break from long school hours and always being told what to do by their parents, and hop scotch, Hide N Seek, marbles and playing at the parks playground was fun, but the Circus was the Circus. It was special to a kid.
It brought life long memories. And it wasn't just animals dressed in clothing. It was also the hi wire acts, the thrill of the other acts as well. And the suspense of the hi wire performers falling or not. The clowns making us laugh. The dogs jumping up on a horses back while the horse was running in a circle. There was so much more to watch. I am really gonna miss it.

No need to generalize kids, not all of us with kids of today raised them on computers and video games. Even us kids of yesterday were entertained by many things that weren't electronic or circus related.
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