Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus began its final run of shows Thursday in New York City at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Known as "The Greatest Show on Earth," the final performance is set for May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Shows will be taking place at the Barclays Center until March 3.
The Brooklyn show was met by animal activists outside the arena according to NY1 News. "We still need the public to realize that they are not the only circus that is using and exploiting animals for entertainment and normalizing abuse for their children," said Jill Carnegie of Vegans of New York.
"I think we should be allowed to enjoy our time and our money that we spent with our family for the last time," said one circus attendee. "And they won, so as far as I'm concerned, they should simmer down and take the W and walk away quietly so we can enjoy our evening."
After running for 146 years, Feld Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. decided to wrap up the traveling show due to high production cost and a decline in ticket sales after they phased out the use of elephants amid pressure from animal rights activists.
"Following the transition of the elephants off the circus, the company saw a decline in ticket sales greater than could have been anticipated," Feld Entertainment said in a statement in January.
"We are grateful to the hundreds of millions of fans who have experienced Ringling Bros. over the years. Between now and May, we will give them one last chance to experience the joy and wonder of Ringling Bros.," added chairman and chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment Kenneth Feld.