Ringling Bros. Circus Is Returning After a Years-long Hiatus — Without Animals

The iconic show will return in the fall of 2023.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is relaunching a show next year with plenty of thrills and high-flying acts, but without the controversial presence of animals.

The "Greatest Show On Earth," which shut down its circus performances five years ago, will return in fall 2023 with acts sourced from around the world, new technology, and interactive elements to encourage audience participation, according to owners Feld Entertainment.

"As passionate stewards of Ringling, we are committed to creating a lifestyle brand that connects with families and sparks real fun 365 days a year through live performances, digital content, consumer products, school curricula, youth circus arts programs and more," Kenneth Feld, the chair and chief executive officer of Feld Entertainment, said in a statement. "We are innovating all aspects of the live show and modernizing the franchise to create an engaging property that is built for today's families and will last another 150 years."

The circus is currently searching for "exceptional talent" and "larger-than-life personalities," holding auditions in several countries, including Ethiopia, France, Mongolia, Argentina, and the United States. So far, Feld Entertainment has received more than 1,000 applications and digital submissions.

Ringling Brothers circus performer
MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images / Contributor

One element that will not be included, however, are live animals, The Associated Press reported. In 2016, the company retired its elephant acts following battles in court, and audiences became increasingly conflicted about how the circus treated its animals, leading to declining ticket sales.

Following the announcement, animal rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals tweeted: "Ringling Bros. announced it is back and animal-free—proving that dazzling human performances are the way forward."

Beyond the circus itself, Feld Entertainment said it was working on developing theme park attractions and touring exhibitions. The company is also working on a documentary, called Ringling, "that will take the audience backstage to meet the cast and crew and learn what it takes to be part of The Greatest Show On Earth."

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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