Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years

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The clowns, animal acts and acrobats of the storied Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus took their final bow at an arena outside NY on Sunday, with a space-themed balancing act kicking off the farewell performance of the "Greatest Show on Earth" after almost 150 years.

The final "Greatest Show on Earth" was held at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in NY.

After 146 years the circus will come to an end the "Greatest Show on Earth".

Alexander Lacey and his big cat show were a crowd favourite.

In 2011, Feld Entertainment Inc., Ringling's parent company, paid a $270,000 civil penalty to the Department of Agriculture to settle a PETA-brought claim of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act; Feld also agreed to compliance training for its handlers and veterinarians. A featured attraction for more than a century, the elephants had come to symbolise the Ringling Bros brand.

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Ringling Bros was the last American circus that travelled by rail.

In many locations it was often a school holiday, said LaVahn Hoh, a retired University of Virginia drama professor who long taught the nation's only course on circus history, a topic he also lectured on at Ringling's Clown College.

Falling ticket sales and high running costs have taken their toll. "I thought the circus was antiquated". He spoke Sunday just before the second-to-last ever circus show.

The circus had been butting heads with PETA and other animal rights groups for a while. But these days, a spokesman said, the show is something on people's bucket lists - a spectacle to see once but not every year.

A performer hugs a young girl on the show floor after the final performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Uniondale, N.Y.

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The final three shows are Sunday in Uniondale, New York, outside of New York City.

You can rejoice - although I don't - at the passing of the Ringling circus and its animal acts, but you might want to think hard about the world those who agitated for its passing want to create.

She has spent the past 10 years organising demonstrations against Ringling as a campaigner with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Circusgoers lined up to buy snow cones served in elephant-shaped mugs and snag leopard plush toys - one of which Culff bought for seven-month-old Emily.

"We are, forevermore, the Greatest Show on Earth", boomed Johnathan Lee Iverson, who has been the ringmaster since 1999. I was lucky enough to see one of its last performances, in early April.

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