The end of an era: Ringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey to close

The big top is coming down for the greatest show on earth.

After 146 years, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey circus announced it is shutting down for good later this year.

Nearly 150 years ago, P.T. Barnum created a circus show that would transcend time.  Decades later, its performers are doing one last act.

"We will be closing both units of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey in May of this year," said Juliette Feld, COO of Feld Entertainment.

On Saturday, the news spread as quickly as acrobats can soar through the air. According to Feld Entertainment, the company that runs Ringling Brothers, phasing out the elephants last year was a game changer.

"Removing the elephants from the touring units-- we saw a very sharp drop in attendance, much greater than we anticipated and that has led us to this decision because the business model was no longer sustainable," said Feld.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, believed this was the right move - not only for the elephants, but for all the other animals in the show.

“Those animals deserve the peace and the private life that was taken away from them when they were taken out of their natural habitat all those years ago," said Creamer.

While animal rights groups are celebrating, many others are mourning the end of a show that marked some of their favorite childhood memories. 

At Circus Warehouse, a flying trapeze and circus school in Long Island City, performers tried their best to deal with the news.

“It's very, very sad. They've left a great legacy and they were really the progenitor what was then modern circus 150 years ago," said Suzi Winson, Circus Warehouse owner.

So whether you're a fan of the circus or not, there's no denying the long history and influence Ringling Brothers has had on so many people this last century and a half. The very last show will be in New York at the Nassau Coliseum on Sunday, May 21st.