Ringling Bros. circus to return next year sans touring animals

Rush Hour

A general view of the show on the final day of the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus on May 21, 2017 in Uniondale, New York. Known as “The Greatest Show on Earth”, the circus performed its final act after a 146 year run. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After a long hiatus, The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is set to return.

Feld Entertainment, the production company behind the circus, confirmed “The Greatest Show on Earth” will come back sometime next year.

The three-ring circus, known for acts featuring lions, tigers and elephants, shut down in May 2017.

The show had come under pressure from animal rights activists who alleged elephant mistreatment. In 2016, after a costly court battle, the circus agreed to remove the elephants from the show and send them to an elephant sanctuary in Florida. Once the elephants were dropped from the show, ticket sales declined dramatically. The show ended the next year after a 146-year run.

Showrunners confirmed Wednesday that the circus will return in 2023 without the animals.

“We will not be touring animals,” the show’s producer, Juliette Feld Grossman, chief operating officer of Feld Entertainment, told NBC’s “TODAY.”

The show will instead focus on “displaying incredible feats that push the limits of human potential and create jaw-dropping moments,” according to a press release.

“We’ve spent countless hours conducting research, speaking with consumers and scouting for talent all over the globe to deliver an experience unlike any other,” Feld Grossman said in a press release. “’The Greatest Show On Earth,’ with its combination of thrills, artistry, comedy and whimsy, will bring generations of families together, creating memories that will last a lifetime.”

Rehearsals will begin in June 2023, and the official tour will launch in September. Tickets will go on sale in April 2023.

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