The Ringling Bros set for a final grand finale

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus will perform their last show ever on May 21 in Uniondale, New York.

“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey will hold its final performances in May of this year,” said Kenneth Feld, the producer of Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey.

“Ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” said Feld.

This circus shutting down has been a huge victory for animal welfare organizations such as PETA.

“At Ringling, animals are caged, chained, and forced to live year in and year out in parking lots and basements. Every moment in training for them is being trained using punishments. That includes using whips and PETA has documented this treatment over and over again,” said Rachel Matthews, the associate director for the Captive Animal Law Enforcement division for the PETA foundation. Matthews works on behalf of animals who are held captive in circuses and roadside views.

Federally, few laws are in place for the treatment of animals in circuses. According to Matthews, “They have to have a license under the law in order to exhibit animals, yet time and time again the U.S. Department of Agriculture has criticized agencies for failing to properly enforce the law. The penalties are so low, all the circuses have to do is pay the fine and then go back to breaking the law.”

Matthews said PETA had volunteers and staff members that work with the Ringling Brother and Barnum and Bailey, which significantly contributed to the circus shutting down as the mistreatment of the animals was directly reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture through their agency.

According to Matthews, there are still a plethora of circuses and parks that continue to mistreat animals, and companies like PETA are working on shutting them down. To help out the cause, PETA has organized a petition to write to the next most popular circus, UniverSoul, and urge them to shut down.

“What UniverSoul needs to do is change their business and change their motto and their treatment of animals or they will go away. What this Ringling Bros situation means for other circuses is that they have to change or they will go out of business,” said Matthews.

COURTESY OF JOHN VANDERHAAGEN

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