Ringling Bros. wraps final shows in 146-year history at Nassau Coliseum

Feld made a decision to fold its tent as a result of high operating costs combined with lower ticket sales, it said in a statement at the time.

Sunday night the circus received a standing ovation, prompting ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson to say, "I thought the circus was antiquated?"

Iverson then led the audience through a one last rendition of "Auld Lang Syne", a tradition at the end of circuses, as performers sang along and hugged one another.

Like numerous show's 300 human performers, Vargas said, she plans to take a break before seeking out new opportunities, perhaps in Europe, where many of her castmates hail from.

Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, announced in January it would close the show, citing declining attendance and high operating costs.

Animal rights activists had targeted the circus, saying that forcing animals to perform and transporting them around the country amounted to abuse.

The circus' last show of three scheduled Sunday at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, is sold out.

The circus had been in operation for more than 100 years.




Created in 1995 by Ringling, the facility focuses on the care and study of Asian elephants - an endangered species that it had used in its shows.

Although it eventually was the last of about two dozen American circuses to still travel by train, Ringling continued trying to modernize and surprise.

Ringling streamed the final show on its website and on Facebook Live, where at least 19,000 viewers watched at one point.

The Center for Elephant Conservation will continue its work, but the lions, tigers, kangaroos, llamas and other exotic animals featured in the shows will be placed in suitable homes, the AP reported.

Animal trainer Alexander Lacey performs with Maasai the lion.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a major critic of the circus for its treatment of animals, celebrated the announcement.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions, said Rev. George "Jerry" Hogan, Ringling's circus chaplain".

Ringling had two touring circuses this season, one of which ended its run earlier this month in Providence, Rhode Island.

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