Feld Entertainment is planning on bringing back the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, four years after the “Greatest Show on Earth” was retired from active performance. The circus will reportedly return without the animal attractions, which had become a lightning rod for protest and led the the promotion’s retirement.
Feld, based in Florida, expected that the circus will be back up in 2023. The touring show had been halted in 2017 after a sharp decline in ticket sales following its removal of animal acts a year earlier. The company also operates a variety of other family-friendly entertainment brands, including Monster Jam, Disney On Ice, and Sesame Street Live.
VenuesNow reported that Feld’s chief operating officer Juliette Feld Grossman told attendees at its conference in Seattle last week that “In 2023, we will be relaunching Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus,” and that she became choked up while telling the crowd of the decision. “You can see it’s emotional and exciting for us as a family. We really feel that Ringling bros. has incredible relevance to today’s audience.”
In response to media inquiries, a Feld spokesperson said that the company is “still in the planning phase for the relaunch of the Greatest Show on Earth” and no official decision or announcement is expected until sometime next year.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus dates back to 1919 when the Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth and Ringling Bros. Worlds Greatest Shows circuses merged. Irvin Feld, who had been a pioneer of concert promotion after getting his start opening a drug store in Washington D.C. in the late 1930s, joined the circus management in 1956 and was the leader of a group that bought the brand out in 1967. Disney ice shows were added to the Feld portfolio in the early 1980s, with other shows added along the way. Monster Jam, Supercross and Arenacross were added in 2008, with Marvel Universe Live added in 2014 and Sesame Street live in 2017.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which had been principal among those pressuring the removal of animal acts from the circus, lauded the decision to return to the stage without the animals. “The exciting announcement sends a powerful message to the entire industry, something that PETA’s been saying for decades: Cruelty doesn’t belong in the circus or in any other form of entertainment,” the organization told the Herald-Tribune.