Ringling Bros. owner: Final shows are 'a celebration'

Veteran's Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale N.Y. which is hosting the final performances of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Sa

"Let's celebrate the Greatest Show on Earth for the last time", he said.

Clowns, aerialists, Cossack riders, lions, tigers and almost 200 other human and animal performers took their final bows with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus Sunday night at the renovated Nassau Coliseum, bringing the Greatest Show on Earth to a close after 146 years.

For Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the circus' final show "can't come soon enough".

Ticket sales have declined in recent years after accusations of animal cruelty. Ringling Brothers' elephants are now being housed at a special facility outside Orlando.

In January, the owners of Ringling Bros. announced that it would close the show after 146 years because of increasing costs and declining attendance, according to an Associated Press report. The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967.

People pose for pictures in front of a trailer after watching a show on the last day of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.

For ring master Johnathan Lee Iverson, the journey with the circus began early on as a 9 year old boy seated in the audience. "But there is a love for the circus that will never die". As he asked his NY audience to support "well-run" circuses, zoos and "public parks that look after these animals", the Showfolks crowd - many still smarting over the sting of watching Ringling retire its elephants a year ago because of animal-rights activists - weighed in with authentic applause.

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"The big show is gone, but circus doesn't have to be", Stephen Craig, one of the show's clowns, said. "Center for Elephant Conservation in 1995", Kenneth Feld said in a statement in 2015.

Feld Entertainment will continue with other productions such as Frozen on Ice, Marvel Live, Supercross, Monster Trucks and Disney on Ice.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will have the show LIVE on Facebook for any fans that wish to watch the last performance.

It is all tragic to Gary Payne, a former president of the 2,000-member Circus Fans Association of America. Animal rights activists have called it the "cruelest show on Earth".

Ringling Brothers has its origins in the 19th century with showman P.T. Barnum.

The Danguir high wire troupe performs during a show, Sunday, May 7, 2017, in Providence, R.I. Mustafa Danguir is the first in his family to perform in the circus.