After 6-Year Hiatus, Revamped Ringling Bros. Circus to Return Without Animals

The historic circus shut down in 2017.

Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus Holds Final Show
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a six-year hiatus, The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming back.

But things will be different under the big top this time around. Most notably, animals won't be returning to "The Greatest Show on Earth" when it hits the road next year.

The historic circus known for its acts featuring lions, tigers, and elephants shut down in 2017 in response to pressure from animal rights groups and changing audience tastes. Producers spent two years during the pandemic planning the new and improved version of the family-owned circus.

"That's the past, and the great thing is that we've had a blank piece of paper to reimagine," Kenneth Feld, chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment, which purchased the circus in 1967, said on Today Wednesday.

The revamped circus will reportedly focus more on narrative storylines and awe-inspiring human feats that celebrate amazing talent from around the world.

"Ringling has always evolved: Logically, in order to be successful for 146 years, you constantly have to change," Feld told The New York Times. "It has been through every economic upturn and downturn that we've had. It's been through two pandemics now; it always adapted."

The company's new, 50-plus city tour kicks off on September 28, 2023. Tickets will go on sale April 2023.

Visit to stay up to date.

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