For over 140 years America was entertained by the big top, the big lights and the unique people and acts that called themselves “The Ringling Brothers Circus”. For over 140 years we saw side shows, clowns, death defying acts, and amazing animal feats. Now that is coming to an end.
The circus announced through a press release that they will cease operations in 2017. Their last show will be in Providence, RI, May 7, 2017. The circus announced they will sell their assets in a bankruptcy auction shortly after the last performance is through.
It’s no surprise that the circus is bankrupt, for years animal rights organizations and PETA have attacked the circus for their animal abuse and cruelty. Each time the circus spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending themselves, each time coming out in their favor, but the eventual monetary toll was too much to make back up to continue operations.
Right now one of the major problems is the care of the animals. What will happen once they close? Some organizations said they would take some of them, but they can’t take all of them. Many people believe that if they could stop the circus, the animals would be released back into the wild where they belong. Unfortunately most of these animals, or the majority of them, were born in captivity. This means they are unable to fend for themselves in the wild; they are dependent on humans to feed and take care of them.
If these animals are unable to find homes, sadly they face being destroyed.
Another problem that many over looked is what will happen to the animals they retired from the show. Those animals were sent to a place in the Tampa Bay area that houses these animals. It’s owned by Ringling Brothers Circus, and now those animals may be in danger of losing their home again. Without income, the sanctuary would lack the necessary funds to run and care for the animals. Care for one elephant can range between $600.00 and $800.00 a day simply eating the massive amounts of food they require.
We hope that a private organization will buy this sanctuary and continue to care for the animals it houses. We also hope that they will take some of the animals that other zoos and sanctuaries can’t take.
In addition to the show closing, Ringling announced that 800 people will be looking for work once the show ends. A concern from workers, and rightfully so, is that their talents are so unique it will be hard to find work elsewhere.
I went to the circus one time when I was growing up. I remember it well. I remember watching the parade of animals and performers dancing and marching down main street, clowns in their mini cars driving recklessly and sometimes crashing for a laugh. I remember the smell of the carnival food and the sound of organ grinders coming around the corner. I remember seeing the big top tent with a flag outside. It was a fun time, but I will admit, I was never really a fan. I always found the circus to be a bit creepy – now I embrace creepy.
I am sad that a tradition like that has to come to an end, and that they couldn’t find a happy medium to please the animal rights groups and their show. As an animal lover I hate to see animals abused so this is a bitter-sweet end for me. I do hope that the animals will be taken care of and that the workers will find work somewhere.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of carnival and circus workers. They are probably some of the most loyal people I’ve ever met, and people who work with passion.
One thing is for sure, carnival memorabilia will be worth a small mint. It was already a hot commodity but now it becomes rare. Collectors here is the best time to buy up those sought after items. It’s an investment you’re sure to make money on.