In May 2017, Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Circus billed as “The Greatest Show on Earth” for nearly one and a half centuries, closed up shop. Animal rights protesters had spoken out against the circus for years, and there were questions about how the show’s animals were being treated. This allegedly led to lower ticket sales and skyrocketing operating costs, which is said to be the cause of the show’s demise.
It’s been more than four years since the center ring was filled with a ring leader, clowns, acrobats and animals, but the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming back.
The circus plans to restart in 2023, but this time without the animals that had made its 146-year original run, from 1871 to 2017, popular. The only performers in the new version of the circus will be people.
An official announcement will be made sometime in 2022. However, Juliette Feld Grossman, the chief operating officer of Field Entertainment, said at the VenuesNow Conference in Seattle in late October that they have plans to bring the show back.
Grossman reportedly got choked up as she spoke during the conference’s panel discussion. “You can see it’s emotional and exciting for us as a family. We really feel that Ringling Bros. has incredible relevance to today’s audience.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organized many protests against RBAB&BC at the time. However, the group is excited that the new version of the circus won’t have animal acts.
“The exciting announcement sends a powerful message to the entire industry, something that PETA’s been saying for decades: Cruelty doesn’t belong in the circus or any other form of entertainment,” the group said in a statement, as per USA Today.
Canadian company Cirque du Soleil has had dozens of shows worldwide since 1984, all without animal acts. Hopefully Ringling Bros. will be able to regain its family-friendly appeal in a similar fashion.