The elephants made their final visit last year. Now, the rest of the performers are saying goodbye.
Baltimore is one of the last six stops for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, the traveling circus that is making its farewell tour after 146 years of entertaining “children of all ages.”
Ringling Bros. is bringing its “Out Of This World” tour to Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena from April 20-30. There will be 16 shows in all, plus a private farewell event at the B&O Railroad Museum on April 19, focusing on the Ringling Bros. train.
The circus tours are ending in large part due to changes in public opinion about keeping animals in captivity. Animal rights groups have pressured a variety of institutions to stop housing animals, and their protests have affected attendance. In Baltimore, the National Aquarium is working on plans to retire its Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins by 2020.
Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, announced in January that it would end its circus tours effective this spring. Company officials said the decision came as a result of high costs coupled with a decline in ticket sales, making the circus an unsustainable business for the company. After the circus retired its elephants last year, officials say, the company saw a greater decline in ticket sales than it had anticipated.
“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey was the original property on which we built Feld Entertainment into a global producer of live entertainment over the past 50 years,” said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, in a statement. “We are grateful to the hundreds of millions of fans who have experienced Ringling Bros. over the years. Between now and May, we will give them one last chance to experience the joy and wonder of Ringling Bros.”
In addition to the circus, Feld’s portfolio includes Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross and Disney On Ice, among others. The company recently announced a partnership to produce live tours of Sesame Street and expanded television coverage for the 2017 Monster Energy Supercross races.
“This was a difficult business decision to make, but by ending the circus tours, we will be able to concentrate on the other lines of business within the Feld Entertainment portfolio,” said Juliette Feld, Feld Entertainment’s Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. “Now that we have made this decision, as a company, and as a family, we will strive to support our circus performers and crew in making the transition to new opportunities.”
Baltimore has been a stronghold for Ringling Bros. A large crowd turned out at Lexington Market last year to say farewell to the tour’s five elephants during their annual lunch visit. Promoters say they expect strong ticket sales for this month’s shows.
The circus has two touring companies, and the only cities besides Baltimore that are scheduled to get Ringling Bros. performances are Charleston, W. Va., Uniondale, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., Manchester, N.H., and Providence. The final two shows will be at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence on May 7 and the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on May 21.
Details about the 16 remaining Ringling Bros. performances in Baltimore can be found online.