The owners of the Ringling Bros. circus said Monday that shutting down the show was "a very difficult decision to make."
At a news conference Monday, members of the Feld family that own the circus discussed the closing of what was an American institution.
"We are sad," Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. "It was a very difficult decision to make."
Feld added that changing times and disputes over the treatment of animals in the show added to the demise.
"Taking the elephants out of the show had a much bigger impact on ticket sales," Feld said. "Also...let's face it. Times change, attention spans change. The family unit structure has changed."
After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on "The Greatest Show on Earth." The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced this weekend that the show will close forever in May.
The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.
The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami.
Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Stops include today in Orlando and Jan. 25-29 in Tampa.
The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967.