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Ringling Bros. Circus to Resume Shows Without Animals

The new show will have a greater emphasis on stunts, acrobatics, and high-tech gimmicks.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has long been one of the biggest names in the circus business, holding copyright over the moniker of “greatest show on Earth.” However, it is also one of the most controversial names, as in the late 2010s, the circus was forced to shutter on the heels of several costly animal cruelty lawsuits. After a lengthy period of redevelopment, the circus is ready to resume operations, this time with no animals and a much greater emphasis on high-flying stunts.

“We knew we were going to come back. We didn’t know exactly how,” Kenneth Feld, chair and chief executive officer of the circus’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press. “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 new shows will be set on a neon-lit stage packed with hidden gimmicks like moving staircases and stages, live camera feeds, and even virtual reality integration. On these stages, performers will engage in feats of acrobatics, extreme sport stunts with skateboards and BMX bikes, and the classic trapeze.

“There is no substitute for live entertainment. You cannot get an emotional response from people looking at a two-dimensional screen as you can when they are experiencing ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ or any kind of live entertainment,” says Feld.

“The technology in the show is about enhancing experience, not just technology,” added Juliette Feld Grossman, chief operating officer of Feld Entertainment. “We have so much activity and action so we want to make sure that we never miss the biggest moments in the show.”

The new circus will kick off its first tour in Bossier City, Louisiana on September 29, 2023.

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