Fans of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus can watch the final bow on Facebook.

The iconic circus announced in January that it was folding up its tent. It’s two traveling shows will end with the final performance at 7 p.m. May 21 in Long Island, N.Y.

Orlando resident Kristen Michelle Wilson, Ringling’s first female ringmaster, will host the final show. She was hired just a month before Ringling announced the end of an era. The entire performance will be live-streamed on the social network and on the Ringling website.

Wilson performed at the last show in Orlando, Jan. 16.

Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment which produces the Ringling show, blamed declining attendance, high operating costs, changing public tastes and a lengthy battle with animal rights groups for the end of the 146-year-old show.

Feld also said that ticket sales dropped dramatically after the circus retired elephants from its shows last May after a 14-year fight with animal rights activists over allegations that circus employees mistreated the elephants.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one of the circus’ most vocal critics, took credit for the demise.

“After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times,” Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in a statement.

The Ringling circus dates back to the late 1800s, when P.T. Barnum partnered with ringmaster James A. Bailey to produce a traveling show of animals and human oddities. The show merged with five brothers from the Ringling family who performed skits and juggling routines. The circus spent decades traveling by train, transporting hundreds of animals, performers and big-top tents to cities throughout the United States.

The family-owned Feld Entertainment bought the circus in 1967. The company has said that many of its 500 Ringling employees will be transferred to the company’s other shows like Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live!

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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