"They liked it", he recalled. The circus has long defended its treatment of animals as humane. One commenter remarked: "i remember seeing the Greatest Show on Earth as a little girl with my family". It included tropical birds, a hippo, zebras, 400 horses and 25 elephants.
"We all have to embrace change", Kenneth Feld told the Associated Press before the final show.
Feld has been working to relocate the animals.
Animal rights activists had targeted the circus, saying that forcing animals to perform and transporting them around the country amounted to abuse.
Producers removed elephants from the show's performances a year ago, and Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said ticket sales dropped drastically. In January, the company announced Ringling would close for good.
Ringling Bros was the last American circus that travelled by rail.
"The big show is gone, but circus doesn't have to be", Stephen Craig, one of the show's clowns, said. "In a day and age when the circus would come to town, it really was like a holiday". "We got to see animals here and the Bronx Zoo". Hoh said last week, imagining what he would ask his students to consider if he still taught today.
"It's always been our goal to be able to share with families the incredible experience, the joy, the happiness and the wonderment of the Greatest Show on Earth - and I think we've accomplished that goal". The second half includes more aerialists, hoop divers, basketball players in unicycles and an act that the circus staff calls "The Fuzzies", featuring dogs, pigs, llamas and goats. For others, it was a bucket list fulfillment.
The big top came down in NY in front of a sold-out crowd at Nassau Coliseum after 146 years, NBC News reported. Many in the audience had tears.
Big cat trainer Alexander Lacey hugs one of the tigers.
Feld's father and uncle bought the circus in 1967.
It is all tragic to Gary Payne, a former president of the 2,000-member Circus Fans Association of America. But the "Greatest Show on Earth" truly began after 1919, when the Barnum & Bailey Circus merged with the separate Ringling Bros. circus, which had been founded in 1884 - in Baraboo. He remembers being hooked on circuses from his first, the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. People, it seemed, didn't want to see a circus without elephants.
"It will, as it should, be revered in the circus heritage, and in American heritage", he said.
Nock, who has a signature shock of two-foot-tall blond hair, performed with the Ringling circus from 2000-2008. "But there is a love for the circus that will never die". She has spent the past 10 years organizing demonstrations against Ringling as a campaigner with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.