Ringling Bros. Circus Is Back without Animals

24 March 2023

A famous American circus has been reimagined and reborn without the use of animals in the show. The family event now centers on humans performing tricks, including walking on a wire and flying through the air on a trapeze high above the ground.

Feld Entertainment owns the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The company talked to the Associated Press about what people can expect to see at the traveling show in 2023. It opens in September.

A group of 75 performers from 18 countries will carry out the acts, which combine artistry, skill and strength. Some will perform jumps, runs and other tricks on a wire high above the ground. The wire is stretched into a triangular path more than seven and a half meters up in the air.

This combination of photos shows art renderings for the reimagined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, reborn without animals. (Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey via AP)
This combination of photos shows art renderings for the reimagined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, reborn without animals. (Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey via AP)

Flying trapeze artists will also cut through the air way up high, flipping as they move. Others perform acts on self-turning wheels, bicycles, unicycles and skateboards.

The "Greatest Show on Earth" as the company calls it, opens its 2023 season in Bossier City, Louisiana. It will hold shows in nine other states through the end of the year, including Ohio, Missouri, Maryland and Oklahoma.

It restarts in 2024 in Florida, home to Feld Entertainment.

Feld Entertainment says it aimed to create a completely new kind of circus.

"We knew we were going to come back. We didn't know exactly how," says Kenneth Feld, chair and chief of Feld Entertainment. "It took us a long time to really delve in and take a look at Ringling in different ways. It became a re-imagination, a rethinking of how we were going to do it."

The circus closed in 2017 after years of decreasing sales and protests over the use of animals in the circus. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals praised the "animal-free" reform.

The new production design includes moveable stairs and two main stages. Crowds watching will have a 360-degree view with live camera feeds and virtual reality.

Juliette Feld Grossman is chief operating officer of Feld Entertainment. She said, "We have so much activity and action so we want to make sure that we never miss the big moments in the show."

The reimagined show extends the circus's long history. The Ringling circus was around before automobiles, airplanes or movies. It first opened in 1871.

The Feld family bought the circus in 1967. Kenneth Feld said that there is something about the circus that people hold dear.

"When you're on a high wire and you're doing a backward somersault on the wire or you're doing something really extraordinary, I don't care where you are. You appreciate that. You understand the danger of it, the thrill of it."

I'm Caty Weaver.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

circus - n. a show that usually travels from place to place and that has a variety of exhibitions including acrobatic feats, wild animal displays, and performances by clowns

trapeze - n. a gymnastic or acrobatic device consisting of a short horizontal bar hung from two parallel ropes

flip - v. to turn in a circle fast through the air

unicycle - n. a vehicle having a single wheel and usually moved forward by pedals

delve - v. to examine a subject in detail

virtual reality - n. an artificial environment which is experienced through sights and sounds provided by a computer and in which one's actions partly decide what happens in the environment

somersault - n. a roll in which a person turns heels over head

thrill - n. a feeling of great excitement or happiness