KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's curtains for the so-called "Greatest Show on Earth".
There`s mixed reaction about the decision to stop the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus after 146 years. Some call it a shame, others call it a victory. Since 1871 the show has excited audiences of all ages. It survived the Great Depression and two world wars. Just talking about the circus, sparks nostalgia for folks living in, and visiting downtown Kansas City.
"It`s something that`s just part of our culture," said Karen Eddison.
"Of course we remember the elephants! You can`t not remember the elephants are lovely and the clowns, and the stilt walkers, and the tightrope and all that sort of thing," recall Trisha Cha.
Not everyone thinks the show is so great, especially those who think that form of entertainment is past its prime.
"I don`t think using animals for performance is probably something that`s viewed in a positive way anymore," said Ryan Everoski.
Ringling Brothers parent company Feld Entertainment said sales went down after the decision last May to retire the elephants. It comes after years of pressure from animal rights groups. FOX 4 heard by phone from a former ringmaster, who says the company decided to retire the animals to go to a sanctuary where they’ll be part of cancer research.
Claudia Wyzard is an elephant ambassador, who has fought for the rights of elephants, and has taken part in several marches, on the Country Club Plaza. She does acknowledge the circus` mark on American history, but applauds the decision to shut it down.
“I think as we evolve we learn more about how wild animals should be treated. I think the more we learn about that the more we see that it`s not exactly the life that they should be leading," said Wyzard.
She says rigorous training and travel is unhealthy for the elephants, and in some cases has even lead to arthritis.
"In the circus they’re doing very unnatural acts. They`re bending on their knees, they`re standing on their back legs, those are not things that happen in nature," said Wyzard.
She calls the decision to pull the plug a win for all animal advocates everywhere, not just those of elephants.
While others say they understand the reason for the closure, they`re sad to see the end of an age-old American pastime. FOX 4 reached out to Sprint Center to hear if it had plans to bring the show back this year, and what they'll replace it with, but haven't heard back because of the MLK holiday. Final performances will take place in May.