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Ringling Bros. circus to close at Nassau Coliseum on May 21

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ringmaster Kristen

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ringmaster Kristen Michelle Wilson performs Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end the "The Greatest Show on Earth" in May, following a 146-year run. Credit: AP / Chris O’Meara

The Greatest Show on Earth will have its last hurrah at the new Nassau Coliseum in May.

Officials for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced on Saturday that the 146-year-old show will close, citing declining ticket sales and spiking operating costs.

“The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make,” Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, whose father acquired the company nearly 50 years ago, said in a statement posted on the circus website.

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season: “Circus Extreme” and “Out of This World.” The final show for “Circus Extreme” will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7, and the other will close after a performance in Uniondale at the Coliseum on May 21.

The two touring circuses will perform a total of 30 shows over the next four months. Most of the shows will be held in the South or on the East Coast. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn. Tickets can still be purchased online and at venues.

The traveling circus troupe made headlines last May when the show stopped using Asian elephants, transitioning the last performing group to a conservatory in Polk County, Florida. As many as 40 Asian elephants were moved to the conservatory, according to their website.

The move contributed to the circus’ demise, officials said, despite the show still using other animals such as lions, tigers and camels.

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

The company employs about 500 people for their shows. Some will be moved to work on other shows the company produces including Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live. Most stand to lose their job but company officials pledged to help with job placement, resume writing and, in the cases of traveling troupes, housing.

“We are grateful to the hundreds of millions of fans who have experienced Ringling Bros. over the years,” Feld said in another statement. “Between now and May, we will give them one last chance to experience the joy and wonder of Ringling Bros.”

With AP

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