Two Years After Announcing It Would Stop Showing Elephants, the Ringling Bros. Circus Closes

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will cease operations, owners announced this weekend. The 145-year-old business was doomed by changing public interest and morals, the Washington Post reports. Americans in recent years have grown leery of seeing large wild animals, such as orcas and elephants, trained to perform.

“They’re powerful, smart, social, rare, and display what we could deem human emotion,” Wes Juddwrote for Pacific Standard in 2015. “There are many reasons people fixate on these types of animals and try so hard to ensure their well-being.”

That year, the Ringling Bros. tried to adapt by announcing it would retire its elephants, which had been the subject of a Mother Jonesinvestigation that found trainers whipped and beat the animals, among other abuses. But ticket sales declined even more sharply after that decision, Chief Operating Officer Juliette Feld told the Associated Press.