The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed its last show last night after 146 years, following the announcement in January that it would be shutting down because of falling attendance and high operating costs.
The last, emotional show was performed at the Nassau County Coliseum on Long Island in New York, and the performers received a standing ovation when it was over. Playing a role in the circus's demise was being targeted by animal rights activists for years, who charged it was abuse to force animals to perform and transport them around the country. Elephants were finally removed from the circus in May 2016, but ticket sales continued to fall. Changing cultural tastes were also a big factor in the decline of the Ringling Bros. circus.