Cheers to the evolution of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus—the company announced that it will officially return, with its first show on Sept. 28, 2023, and a tour of more than 50 cities, but without any animals.
Five years ago the circus packed up its tent for what it said was for good, ending a 146-year run in the face of slumping sales and a growing public distaste for the lion, tiger and elephant acts once synonymous with this circus.
“Ringling has always evolved: Logically, in order to be successful for 146 years, you constantly have to change,” Kenneth Feld, the chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment, which purchased the circus in 1967, told The New York Times. Feld is betting big on a revamped show that is centered, not around things like elephants standing on their hind legs, but narrative story lines and human feats.
“It has been through every economic upturn and downturn that we’ve had,” said Feld of the circus. “It’s been through two pandemics now; it always adapted.”
Lifting the veil on what’s wrong with imprisoning animals in circuses for entertainment has always been part of the fabric of Friends of Animals. When Ringling Bros. shuttered in 2017, Priscilla Feral, president of FoA, said: “We think this reflects a change in what people view as family entertainment. This change is one we had been fighting for decades. It’s gratifying and proves once again public backlash matters.”