Ringling Bros. Circus returns next year, minus the elephants, lions and tigers

Later Turning off In 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is planning its comeback, but with an elephant-sized caveat: the so-called “Greatest Show on Earth,” long celebrated for its animal performers, will now have no four . creatures with legs

Feld Entertainment, the family entertainment giant and longtime owner of Ringling, announced Wednesday that it will relaunch the circus with a tour beginning in September 2023 and spanning at least 50 cities across North America. Tickets will go on sale in April 2023.

In the new iteration of the circus, the idea is to focus on the human side of the performance and forgo elephants, tigers and the like. The show, which has a 146-year history, also won’t necessarily fit into its usual three-ring format, according to Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, but will include much of what he described as visual storytelling.

Feld told MarketWatch that the plan to bring Ringling back has been in the works for a few years, but now seemed like the right time to announce the return.

“With all the craziness and all the news out there, this is one big rainbow in the sky,” he said.

As popular as Ringling’s animal acts had been among some of their patrons, they had also become a lightning rod for controversy. Animal rights activists had long protested the circus’s use of such acts.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was one of the most vocal anti-Ringling groups. On Wednesday, Rachel Mathews, director of the PETA Foundation, praised the circus for making the change.

“The buzzer returns with a vengeance, transforming the saddest sight on Earth into a dazzling display of human ingenuity after 146 years of animal abuse,” it said in a statement.

Feld said he wasn’t worried if circus regulars would miss the animals and hesitate to buy tickets as a result. He noted that his company is well-versed in the family market: Feld Entertainment produces everything from “Sesame Street Live!” to monster truck shows, and thus has control over what the public wants.

“We don’t work in a vacuum,” he told MarketWatch.

See also: “I was a circus clown. Here are 10 things he taught me about life.”

The new program may also represent a kind of cost savings for the company. While Feld didn’t provide any numbers, he did point out that the circus will no longer move from city to city by train, which has proven to be cumbersome and expensive. Feld said the focus now would be to put “everything on the show” instead of “this blanket stuff.”

Ryan Stana, CEO of RWS Entertainment Group, a leading producer of family entertainment, said there might be a place for a revived Ringling in the market.

“Audiences crave experiences more than ever. The time is more than right for Ringling,” he told MarketWatch.

At the same time, Stana said, without the animals, the circus will have to think carefully about what will attract the audience. Innovation “will be key to their success,” she said.


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