Life After Ringling: What Happens When the Circus Closes Down (2023)

Teri Silver is not only a journalist, she is a longtime lover of the circus. Teri now lives this dream through words and her circus friends.

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No one really saw the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming. When the surprising announcement came in January of 2017—that Ringling would cease operations of both the Red and Blue unit traveling shows in May of that year—performers and crew members were thrown for a loop.

Close down this incredible circus? This American icon, after 146 years? An end to the Ringling Bros. show, the Greatest Show on Earth?

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It was a bitter pill to swallow for so many people; performers, workers and former employees right alongside circus audiences in the United States and around the world.

Still, the world is changing and life must always move forward. Jobs come and go. Memories of the Ringling Bros. circus are happy ones. Life in the “city without a zip code” was incomparable to just about anything else.

A few months following the closings, I chatted with several principal performers about “Life After Ringling.” I am now receiving updates on jobs and life; information where noted.

Yes, life moves on.

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Alexander Lacey and Masai

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Alexander Lacey (Big Cat Trainer) & Katie Azzario-Lacey (Acrobat/Animal Trainer)

“The big cats are my life and I cannot imagine anything else—ever,” British animal trainer Alexander Lacey told me once again. “Ringling was a dream; I will always cherish the opportunity I had with this show.”

Alexander Lacey and his feline menagerie arrived in the United States in November of 2011. He joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for three tours with the Blue Unit (Dragons, Legends and Out Of This World).

Lacey and his big cats, crew, and lovely wife (Katie Azzario-Lacey) are now in Europe, performing in Germany. “We are settled in and the cats are perfect,” says Katie. "Our circus life is quite normal for us."

After returning to Europe, Alexander Lacey spent weeks performing with his lions and tigers in Lille, France and Heilbronn, Germany.

One year-plus after the closing of Ringling:

The Laceys are with Circus Charles Knie in Germany (now through November). In addition to assisting with the big cats, Katie Azzario-Lacey is the featured vocalist for the show. They will perform with the Offenburg Christmas Circus (in Germany) December 19, 2018 through January 6, 2019.

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Alexander Lacey is happy to be back in Europe, but, he says, he does miss the United States. "I appreciate everyone’s good wishes and the great times I had with my Ringling family."

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Ammed Tuniziani flies to his catcher, Adriano de Quadra

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Ammed Tuniziani and the Flying Tuniziani

The Flying Tuniziani joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the Legends show, starting in 2014. Star trapeze flyer Ammed Garcia Tuniziani is a third-generation circus performer; the youngest of the five Flying Tuniziani brothers. Ammed’s wife (Estefani Evans) also performs with the troupe.

With Ringling Bros., Ammed Tuniziani did what only one other flyer had ever done (at that time); turn quadruple somersaults into the arms of his catcher (Adriano De Quadra)—both in practice and performance. (Tuniziani’s mentor, Miguel Vazquez, completed the quad many times throughout his long career. Other flyers are now throwing quads, as well).

It was the year 2000 when nine-year-old Venezuela-born Ammed Garcia Tuniziani began performing with his brothers (at Circos Hermanos Vazquez in Mexico City). Before their years with Ringling (2014–2017), Ammed and the Flying Tuniziani worked with a number of shows around the world and in the United States, including: Cirque du Soleil, Circus Vargas, James Christie Cole, Royal Hanneford and Circus Circus Casino (in Las Vegas).

Shortly after the Ringling circus announced its closing, Ammed Tuniziani told me he was working out the details for appearing with the Big Apple Circus (USA).

One year-plus after the closing of Ringling:

Ammed and the Flying Tuniziani are doing what they do best.

“I loved being with Ringling for the Legends (2014–2016) and Out Of This World (2016–2017) tours,” Ammed Tuniziani told me. “We all did, and I will never forget that moment when I first hit the quad in performance; I flew back to the platform … everyone was cheering and excited.

"Now we are so happy to be with Big Apple,” he continued. "We have doubled the number of performers in our act, and are having a great time. Our 2018–2019 season is underway.

“Trapeze is my gift from God," Tuniziani says. "Miguel Vazquez was my biggest inspiration and when I first saw him fly, I knew that I wanted to fly with the circus; it’s what I always wanted to be. Working with my brothers and wife, and having our children watch what we do is my greatest joy.”

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Big Apple Circus was founded in 1977 but ran into financial troubles which forced it into bankruptcy in 2016. Under new ownership, the circus performed its autumn and holiday seasons in New York’s Lincoln Center; it has since toured areas of the East Coast. After a summer hiatus, the show will go on in the fall of 2018 and into 2019. Visit Big Apple Circus.com for touring information.

(Video) The Ringling Bros. Circus Shutting Down After 146 Years

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Benny Ibarra's Wheel of Steel

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Benny Ibarra: Wheel of Steel

With a circus background that includes clowning, trampoline, and the flying trapeze, Benny Ibarra loves to dance on the Pendulum of Steel; a 35-foot long metal structure that weighs about 16,000 pounds.

After stints with the Royal London Circus in China and performances in Taiwan, Mexico, Asia, Africa and Europe, Benny Ibarra brought his aerial talents to the Greatest Show On Earth. From 2014 until the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed in May of 2017, Ibarra showcased his dangerous and “Xtreme” athleticism to audiences two or three times a day – without a safety net below. The wheel stands 30 feet in the air; Ibarra’s performance included skipping, tumbling, spinning and jumping rope.

What has happened after the show closed?

“When the Ringling show closed, I thought I would be in Spain with El Gran Circo Mundial—I signed that contract just after the announcement was made. But the owner of Gran Circo Mundial went back on his word and did not honor the terms of our contract, which caused me some problems."

One year after the closing of Ringling:

"I've been staying busy and am now planning some vacation time with my wife and children," Benny Ibarra told me. "After that, I'll be headed to Europe; probably France or Germany. I have not signed on with any particular show yet but we'll see what happens."

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Hans Klose and friends.

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Hans Klose: Animal Trainer

Like most of us who love animals, Hans Klose is “trained” by his pets. The true stars of the act are poodles, terriers and pigs. “Most of the dogs come from shelters and pounds,” says Klose. “They have their own trailer when we travel from show to show.”

In addition to the dogs (Fox Terriers, poodles, a Great Dane, Australian Shepherd and mixed breeds), the Klose menagerie features a couple of 700-pound pigs. The pigs learn tricks well, says their trainer, but he leaves the hoop-jumping feats up to the dogs; they can dive from 16 feet up, do black flips and walk on hind legs.

“Training a dog is fairly simple—they respond to treats and praise,” says Klose. “Pigs are different. If that pig doesn’t want to do something, you cannot convince him otherwise; not even with treats. They must be ‘persuaded’ to move ... animals that big won’t work with a leash. Roscoe was a piglet when I got him—he would have been a candidate for the sausage mill if he hadn’t become a circus performer.”

Hans Klose is a second-generation circus performer; he began at age 10 as a foot juggler. “My dad once told me that when you learn a circus act, you’ll always have that experience to fall back on. With the dogs, it’s more than just an act, it’s a relationship. They’re our pets and I will never let them go. They’ll be with me for the rest of their lives.”

So, what’s happening?

“We were at the Utah State Fair (in the fall of 2017, along with former Ringling star daredevil Bello Nock) and we are now doing independent contract work with the dogs,” Hans Klose told me. “We had independent circus dates this winter, mostly in Pennsylvania."

One year after the closing of Ringling:

Hans and the Klose K9s are performing at Circus World (in Baraboo, Wisconsin) for the summer, 2018 season.

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Johnathan Lee Iverson

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Johnathan Lee Iverson: Ringmaster Extraordinaire

Big Top Voice Johnathan Lee Iverson joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1998 at the age of 22. He met his wife (Priscilla) on the show; they lived on the circus train with their two children.

“Life after Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has been as I expected,” Johnathan Lee Iverson recollected. “After the show closed, my body was tremendously tired and I really just needed to rest and relax—to simply enjoy life as is, without the worry of what’s next. So, I did just that. Then, I spent several months as was the Artistic Director for a performing arts organization in Orlando, but It wasn't something that would work out for the long run. Now, I am with Opera Orlando."

One year after the closing of Ringling:

Johnathan Lee Iverson starred in two shows with Opera Orlando (in Florida)' playing android lover "Joe" in The Companion, and "Klingon Selim" in Star Trek: Abduction. For more information on other performances, visit Opera Orlando.

By the way, Johnathan Lee Iverson was recently an "answer" on the television game show, Jeopardy!

(Video) Hundreds to lose jobs after Ringling Bros Circus shuts down

Of course, we all know what the "question" was !!!

Johnathan Lee Iverson met the love of his life (beautiful Priscilla Costa) during his second tour with Ringling, at the end of the year 2000. The Brazilian-born Priscilla was a dance troupe captain and translator when she joined the 131st edition of the show; she became the production manager in 2014 at the start of the Legends tour. Johnathan and Priscilla were married in 2001 after a morning show in Chicago.

After Ringling, Priscilla took a short engagement as Stage Manager at Sea World (in Orlando). Currently, works with Sea World and she is teaching ballet/lyrical jazz dance with former Ringling aerialist/dancer Joyce Lemos (at Joyce Lemos Productions).

"I love dance, and it's a perfect fit," says Priscilla.

Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson performed in seven tours with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus:

  • The Living Carousel (129th )
  • Bo & Bello (131st)
  • Bailey’s Comet (133rd)
  • Barnum 200 (140th)
  • Dragons (142nd )
  • Legends (144th )
  • Out Of This World (146th)

“One more thing,” Iverson added, “I have been doing some public speaking and event-hosting, and I am working on my book. You have not heard the last from me!”

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Kanat Riders

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Kanat Riders Equestrian Troupe

The Kanat Riders are as bold as any superheroes could ever be—jumping upon, hanging upside-down and crawling underneath galloping horses as they charge around the ring.

Kanat and Tatiana Tchalabaev are originally from Kazakhstan; they lead an international troupe of riders (from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico and Uzbekistan) in their quest to create one of the most daring acts in the world. The five-person pyramid, “dead man drag,” and underbelly climb are just a few of the precision feats in this enterprise. The troupe performs in a specially-designed 46 foot (diameter) ring on top of horses moving at galloping speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

In the years before coming to Ringling, Tatiana Tchalabaeva was a gymnast/acrobat with the National Team of Rhythmic Gymnasts; Kanat Tchalabaev trained at the Moscow Circus School. The Ringling circus became their home in 1991.

“We love our beautiful horses and we all look after them,” Tatiana says. “Proper care for these animals is so important … to exercise, feed, brush and just interact and bond with them, it is love. Every day we work and practice with our gorgeous babies—they know and love us, too."

With the Ringling show now closed, the Kanat Riders are performing solely with UniverSoul Circus. “We loved being with Ringling,” says Kanat Tchalabaev, "and we love UniverSoul. Actually, we had two troupes; our riders performed with both shows for a number of years (one troupe with Ringling and another with UniverSoul). Some of our riders that were with Tatiana and me at Ringling are now with us at UniverSoul."

"Yes, we truly love and will miss Ringling," Tatiana added. "It was our home for so many years; it was more than just a show, it was our life. We have so many friends and wonderful memories."

One year after the closing of Ringling:

Tatiana and Kanat Tchalabaev live in Florida, continuing to train horses and riders. UniverSoul Circus is always adding to its schedule; check out their website or Facebook page for ticket information.

Kristen Michelle Wilson: Lady Ringmaster

“We never say goodbye in the circus life,” Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Kristen Michelle Wilson told the final audience of Circus Xtreme on May 7, 2017. “All we say is we’ll see you down the road.”

And so it is.

Kristen Michelle Wilson became Ringling’s first and only female ringmaster (ringmistress?) earlier this year.

“It was my dream,” says Wilson, “and truly magical.”

With a history of singing for stage shows, rock bands, commercial producing and marketing/production assistant—as well as host for a television program at her local station (in Tallahassee, Florida)—Kristen Michelle Wilson found out about Ringling’s search for a ringmaster from a man who once held that job, in the 1980s.

“I threw my hat in the ring,” she said. “Why not!”

Kristen Michelle Wilson got the job. Then, a few weeks later, the show announced its impending closing (with the final presentation of Circus Xtreme to take place on May 7th). Since then, Kristen has been performing in nightclubs and restaurant shows, around Orlando and other areas of Florida.

"In my time post-circus, I've been gigging, performing corporate & private events all summer & fall. I've been traveling all across my state & our beautiful country, exploring new places & falling freshly in love with old ones. I've been spending rare, precious time with family & friends in a way my career hasn't afforded me in years. I've been figuring out my own personal life & gearing up for the next professional challenge. I am on Facebook, so you can find me there; I’ll always have lots to say!"

One year after the closing of Ringling:

"This Sunshine State gal up & became a Volunteer! I moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and am performing at Dolly Parton’s Celebration; a spectacular dinner show at Smoky Mountain Adventures," says Kristen. "I’m absolutely loving it. This show, cast and crew are world-class and the area is gorgeous. Life is good."

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(Video) Ringling Bros. Circus to Close After 146 Years

Laszlo Simet, Diana Bakk, Olga Simet

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Laszlo Simet and the “Astronauts”

Whether he is sky walking, inside the “wheel of death” or driving a motorbike on the high wire, Laszlo Simet keeps an audience’s attention. Before joining Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the Out Of This World tour (2016–2017), Laszlo walked the wire in countries around the world, including those throughout Europe, Taiwan, Canada, South Africa and then some.

Olga Simet originally learned aerial rope performance at the famous Moscow Circus School. She and Laszlo work together on skywalks, the wheel, motorbike, and more recently, a revolving wedged-shaped apparatus in the spaced-themed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Out Of This World. Perched upon her husband’s shoulders, Olga did a headstand as Laszlo rode his bicycle. Partner Diana Bakk added to this specialized performance.

I asked Laszlo about his circus heritage.

“My parents were high wire artists and I always wanted to be one, so I started practicing when I was about 10 years old,” he says. “My first job as a high wire artist was in 1978—it was with the Hungarian State Circus show in Czechoslovakia. One of my idols was Manfred Doval; he worked with the Budapest Capital Circus. I watched him as much as possible.

“In 1989, I purchased a motorbike for the wire and then, a few years later (1995), I constructed a “wheel of death” so that I could expand my repertoire. I did my first skywalk in 1997 in Budapest between two buildings in the city’s center.”

It was in 2011 when Laszlo Simet began developing the act that eventually became the “space walk.” (An old Soviet circus movie gave him the idea for this act, originally invented in the Soviet Union around 1940).

“Planning and building the props took about a year,” Simet went on. “As a high wire artist for more than 30 years, I was surprised at the difficulty. But when we called legendary Russian director Ruslan Ganeev to choreograph the astronaut routine, it all came together.”

In 2012, Laszlo Simet walked on a 16-millimeter wire at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics; 45 meters straight up. “That was the most amazing thing,” he continued. “I walked the wire on top of the stadium.”

Laszlo Simet, his wife Olga and aerialist Diana Bakk first presented their astronaut act in January of 2013. They won several coveted circus prizes over the next few years, before signing on with Ringling Bros.

“It was a great experience, travelling the United States and working in that big show,” Laszlo affirmed. "In 2017 when the announcement came that the show was closing, it was a disaster for us. We all had long-term contracts and plans and expected to be settled for years.”

So, what’s happening now?

After the Ringling Bros. show closed, Laszlo Simet says it wasn't an easy time for the troupe.

"After Ringling, I had to reshuffle my group with all new partners (Olivia Kapitany and Linda Carannante); it took the whole summer. My wife (Olga) wanted to stay at home with our children, and our original partner (Diana Bakk) decided to carry on with a solo career.

"Then, in September (2017), we started a three-month tour in France. After that, life got very busy. We had a Christmas show in Ahoy, Holland, performed at the Monte Carlo festival in January and then at the Albacete festival in Spain. I am very proud to say that we won the Gold Prize in Albacete.

One year after the closing of Ringling:

"Currently, we are touring with Circus Arena in Denmark (until September). Contracts are signed for La Grande Fete Lilloise du Cirque (from October to December) then it's on to Circus Roncalli for Christmas. Looks like a nice tour ahead, we are looking forward to it."

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Danguir Troupe

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Mustafa Danguir and the Danguir High Wire Troupe

“Danger” isn’t just another word for the Danguir high wire troupe of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Red Unit, but it certainly describes this daring act.

Mustafa Danguir (or Mustafa Danger, as he prefers) is from Tangier, Morocco. Before developing his own high wire act, Mustafa’s personal performance history includes tours with European circuses and the Greatest Show on Earth; including the seven-man pyramid feat with the Guerrero troupe at Ringling (from 1996 to 1999).

Now with his own act, Mustafa and the Danguir troupe showcase their talents by jumping, dancing, leaping and climbing the pyramid on a wire that is 35 feet above the ground; no net and no safety cables. In 2010, Mustafa and the Danguir high wire troupe became Ringling stars—thrilling audiences until that last performance on May 7, 2017.

“My troupe is like family,” Mustafa told me. “In the beginning, my brothers were with me but now I have partners and we are very close. Most of the time I work with five people, but sometimes it could be eight or ten; it depends on the show and the company.”

Within the last year, says Mustafa Danger, “I did some galas in Spain and a few TV appearances. I was on Arabs Got Talent, too. We had a number of performances in Europe, including the International Circus Festival of Grenoble. In December, we were with Flic Flac circus in Germany.”

One year after the closing of Ringling:

After starring with Circo (Circus) Úbeda in Spain, Mustafa Danguir is now performing with Circus Krone, in Germany.

Before coming to Ringling Bros., Mustafa Danger crossed the Santiago Bernabéu soccer stadium in Madrid, Spain. At more than 540 feet in the air, he walked a mile on a wire between a hotel and church in Benidorm, Spain. It was at 1,150 feet that Mustafa crossed between two mountains in New York.

Mustafa Danger says his dream is to cross the Seven Wonders of the World on the high wire.

“There is always tomorrow,” he says with a wink and a smile.

"Nitro" Nicole: Nicole Sanders, the Human Cannonball

The world has an open path for Nicole Sanders, billed as “Nitro Nicole” with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Xtreme. How does a lady who studied psychology, Spanish and ballet end up as a performing human cannonball?

I asked Nicole to tell her story.

“I went to college at Loyola University,” she says. “During the time I was studying for the GRE to apply to grad school, I saw this woman set up her aerial equipment in my gym ... that did it for me and the rest was history,” she laughed. ” So, I attended a professional circus center in San Francisco and trained there—even while recuperating from knee surgery. I’ve been performing professionally ever since then, with Lyra straps, doubles, the cloudswing and last but hopefully not really last … the cannon. There was a circus in Peru (Cole Brothers) and other various other gigs. My last job was with Ringling.”

‘How did you transition from basic aerials to the cannon?’ I asked.

“I was ending my season at Cole, and my friend heard that the cannon coach at Ringling was looking for another gal to train. I made some contacts and then had a message from the coach, asking if I was interested. It was Ringling. Was I interested??? Yes!!!

I saw the show and then went for a ‘long audition’ that really was more about learning the cannon. This turned into the most stressful three weeks I’ve ever had, because I knew that it must be done absolutely right. It was hard but I was very determined. This was all happening in a freezing Indiana gym,” Nicole recollected. “I’d have to soak in a tub every night.”

And then what happened?

(Video) Hundreds to lose jobs after Ringling Bros Circus shuts down

“They (Ringling) threw me into the show at the start of the season,” says Nicole. “I absolutely loved it! The train, people, show, talent, accommodations, legacy, performing … I was working for the Greatest Show On Earth. How cool was that! But when it ended, it ended. So now I am at an impasse in my life. I would love to do more circus jobs if I could. But the pay, accommodations, and season length would have to be right—and in circus you generally can't be that choosy. Still, I have to make a living so while I’m open to doing circus jobs, I have to do some ‘normal’ jobs to earn money, which is what I am doing."

Any ideas for the future?

“Yes,” replied Nicole Sanders. “Soon I will decide which direction I want to go in—whether it is in instruction or fitness or grad school or some other option. The circus is always an option too, as there are many out there, still.

"One thing I always remember; this came from my first circus coach, the legendary Elena Panova. She asked me this on my first day of training with her, she said, ‘why do you want to do this?’ So I responded fairly quickly, ‘fun.’ Elena cut me off and told it to me straight … ‘No. Circus is not fun, it is hard. And you must love it.’ And she is right, I do love it, so, whatever comes next, I will always be ‘Nitro Nicole.’”

One year after the closing of Ringling:

"Nitro Nicole" is sharing her love for the aerial arts with students in New Orleans, and she works for Lululemon (an athletic gear and apparel company).

"No matter what, I will always be performing and it is that love that inspires and drives me to share my gift," Nicole Sanders says with a smile.

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Paulo dos Santos with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

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Paulo dos Santos: Acrobat, Aerialist, Contortionist, Clown Comic

Brazilian-born Paulo Cesar Oliveira dos Santos can do just about anything. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus producers discovered dos Santos, a man of small stature but dynamic athleticism and talent, a few years before he was able to join the Greatest Show On Earth.

“I came to Ringling in 2009,” Paulo said proudly. “The four shows I performed with this circus were Funundrum, Dragons, Legends and Out Of This World.

Paulo dos Santos began his career as an artist of Brazilian Capoeira—a combination of dance, acrobatics, music, and martial arts. With Ringling, dos Santos worked alongside ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson in the Blue Unit. Together they fought off dragons, found mythical legends and hunted for stolen circus acts and then-some; always coming out victorious.

Paulo is now working with Zippos circus in England; he is an aerialist, comic clown and acrobat—similar to what he did with Ringling.

“Similar but different,” Paulo told me. “We have a wonderful show and I am so happy to be a part of it. I also want to thank the Feld family and Ringling for everything; it was an amazing experience, and I’ll never forget my circus family in the United States, and the people who came to see us every year.

One year after the closing of Ringling:

"I am still with Zippos," he told me. We have an amazing show and Mr. Martin (Martin Burton, the show's owner and Zippo the Clown) is a wonderful man to work for. Some of the children of different performers are now in the circus ring, and you can see the future of circus ... it is wonderful. I do a full act on the straps and acrobatic play with Totti the Clown. It is a lot of fun!

"Also," Paulo told me, "I want to say thank you to Mr. Lacey (Alexander Lacey) for introducing me to the bosses at Zippo. It is just a wonderful place to be."

For more information about Zippos circus, visit zippos.co.uk. The company also has a presence on Facebook.

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Taba Maluenda

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Taba Maluenda: Big-Cat Trainer

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Taba Maluenda hugged his big cats during the Red Unit’s last performance of Circus Xtreme in Rhode Island on May 7, 2017. The animal trainer raised most of these tigers himself; having been with Ringling for 13 years. He thanked each tiger by name as they left the ring.

“A very hard day,” he told me. “Those tigers were my children. To be able to hug these cats is very emotional; some won’t let you do that. When they do, it is because they want to show affection and love.”

Born in Chile, Tabayara Maluenda is a sixth-generation circus performer—he worked many jobs (including clowning, acrobatics and a stint on the flying trapeze) in his younger years. Taba’s love for the big cats came at age 13 after seeing a video of Ringling’s famed animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams.

“That’s when I knew I wanted to work with animals,” Maluenda says.

A couple of years later, Taba Maluenda began working with animals during circus shows in South America and Central America. It was in 2004 when he joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

After the final performance of Circus Xtreme, ‘Taba’s Tigers’ (owned by Feld Entertainment) were sent to a big cat sanctuary.

“13 years of love,” he sighed. “After the show close, I spent some time Chile with my family but came back to the United States (in autumn). I've had some offers in the U.S. and in Europe. What I want most is to buy my own animals to create a specialty act.”

In the early months of 2018, Taba performed a mixed animal liberty act with Carden circus; camels, horses & ponies. But he later told me that he wasn't happy with the show, so he moved on.

One year after the closing of Ringling:

I have asked but have no word yet on Taba Maluenda's latest venture.

The End. But Not Really.

Ringling is closed but “circus” will last forever, in some shape or form. The artists from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey are moving in the direction that life will take for them; whether it is a circus in the United States, Europe or anywhere else in the world—or something completely different.

Yes, in some way ... all your days CAN be Circus Days, if you want them to be.

I really do believe that to be true because I have seen a number of circus performances since the closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The "smaller" shows are out there—they are waiting for all of us.

So, yes ...

With so many options and opportunities out there, we all want to say …

“See you down the road.”

And, thank you.

Life After Ringling: What Happens When the Circus Closes Down (63)

© 2017 Teri Silver

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on October 08, 2017:

Great article. It's the end of an era. I wish them well.

(Video) The big top comes down: Ringling Bros. circus is closing

FAQs

Where do retired circus animals go? ›

Now, thanks to Florida-based White Oak Conservation, the animals have a new home — one where they can roam freely. Located about 30 miles north of Jacksonville, Florida, the sprawling 17,000-acre facility is home to between 350 and 400 animals comprising 35 endangered species.

Why did Ringling Brothers circus end? ›

The Ringling Bros. circus was shut down five years ago, after a nearly 150-year run. Its production company said financial worries were forcing it to pack up the show. The closure followed the circus' phasing out its use of elephants — a move celebrated by animal rights activists.

Will Ringling Brothers circus ever come back? ›

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.

What happens to animals after the circus? ›

Their options include zoos and private owners, but former circus animals often end up at the animal sanctuaries that dot the nation, which vary widely in quality. Those might not have much trouble taking in horses or kangaroos, but tigers, bears and other large carnivores are another matter.

Where did Ringling Bros elephants go? ›

Philanthropists Mark and Kimbra Walter arranged to purchase all 32 of the former Ringling Bros. elephants and have them transported 200 miles from Central Florida to Yulee, outside Jacksonville. The Walters bought the 17,000-acre White Oak sanctuary in 2013, and have been expanding it since.

Do circuses still use animals 2022? ›

There are 195 countries globally. And out of those, only 48 have total bans on circus animals. But some are on a per state or per town basis, so it can be tricky to get precise numbers. Still, countries like France, Germany, Spain, and Italy have no restrictions on circus animals as of 2022.

Do circus still use animals? ›

When Ringling closed up shop in 2017, other circuses quickly folded as states and major cities banned the use of bullhooks, whips, or the use of wild animals for entertainment. However, there are still circuses in business today that travel around the country with wildlife.

Are there still circuses in the USA? ›

The Cole All-Star Circus got its start in 1938 as a fundraising campaign for school groups and organizations in New York State; it continues to operate today. Mainly set up for school auditoriums, the show features acrobats, canines, clowns, cyclists and other floor acts.

Does Ringling brothers still have animals? ›

The team behind the circus went on The TODAY Show on Wednesday to share the news, where they confirmed that the revamped show will not feature any animals. “We will not be touring animals,” Juliette Feld, the COO of Feld Entertainment, confirmed on the talk show.

Is the circus coming back in 2023? ›

But over the past year, in places like Las Vegas, Ethiopia and Mongolia, the circus has quietly been evaluating talent and ramping up for comeback. On Wednesday, the company announced that it will officially return, with its first show on Sept. 28, 2023, and a tour of more than 50 cities, but without any animals.

Does Barnum & Bailey still exist? ›

Five years after calling it quits, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily circus is back for an encore. The famed traveling circus will return in September 2023, production company Feld Entertainment announced via a YouTube video Wednesday.

Does Barnum & Bailey circus still exist? ›

and Barnum & Bailey Circus, told the outlet. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut down in 2017 after 146 years, citing the high price of putting on the show, waning popularity, and pressures from animal rights activists.

Why do circus not have animals? ›

We don't believe animals should be subjected to the conditions of circus life. This is because of the constant travelling, the cramped transport, the small temporary housing, forced training and performance. The loud noises and crowds of people are often upsetting or frightening for performing animals.

How do animals get treated in the circus? ›

Physical punishment has always been the standard training method for animals in circuses. Animals are beaten, shocked, and whipped to make them perform—over and over again—tricks that make no sense to them. The AWA allows the use of bullhooks, whips, electrical shock prods, or other devices by circus trainers.

Why do we not see wild animals performing in circus anymore? ›

The process of training animals to perform unnatural tricks is inherently abusive, as shown in the inspection reports. FIAPO reiterates its appeal to the ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to take note of this and ban the use of all animals in circuses."

Where is the Ringling Brothers train now? ›

The train cars are located on abandoned tracks in the woods about 4,000 feet from the town limits of Spring Hope near 518 S. Old Franklin Road, officials said.

Does Ringling Brothers still have elephants? ›

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus -- whose last performance, pictured here, was in May 2017 -- is returning next year with a new, animal-free show.

Can circuses still have elephants? ›

Several hundred Asian elephants live in the United States, the majority of them in zoos. Most of the rest live in sanctuaries or refuges; a handful are still owned by circuses, performing in states and communities where that use of wild animals is still legal.

What states have banned circuses? ›

Six states ban the use of certain exotic or wild animals in traveling animal acts or circuses: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

How many circuses are left in the USA? ›

ADI estimates (conservatively) that there are currently around 300 exotic/wild animals with US circuses. There are currently around 18 non-animal circuses (human-only performances).

Where are circus animals banned? ›

Measures to prohibit or limit the use of animals in circuses have already been adopted in 49 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, ...

How long does a circus stay in one place? ›

Generally, a circus will spend between a few days and two weeks at a particular location, sometimes longer. For example, during May 2008, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Gold Tour planned to visit seven locations, the Red Tour three locations, and the Blue Tour five locations.

What is the most famous circus in the world? ›

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a traditional circus from US founded in 1907. They call themselves “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

Are circus animals treated well? ›

Circus Cruelty

Animals in circuses are often beaten, shocked, kicked, or cruelly confined in order to train them to be obedient and do tricks. With elephants, the abuse begins when they are babies to break their spirits. All four of the baby elephant's legs are chained or tied for up to 23 hours per day.

Does Jordan World Circus use animals? ›

Instead, the Jordan World Circus will use trained camels and dogs in place of the elephants and tigers. Jeremy Beckham is the Executive Director of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition or UARC, an organization that opposed the circus's use of exotic animals.

How long did the Barnum and Bailey circus last? ›

Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus Ends 146-Year Run.

What was the first circus called? ›

In 1782, Astley established the Amphithéâtre Anglais in Paris, the first purpose-built circus in France, followed by 18 other permanent circuses in cities throughout Europe.

Why did Ringling Brothers stop using elephants? ›

The circus ended its 146-year run in January 2017 when ticket sales declined after customer distaste with animal acts and costly court battles with animal rights activists that led to the end of elephant acts in 2016.

What happened to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus? ›

Barnum and James Anthony Bailey, was merged with the Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Shows. The Ringling brothers had purchased Barnum & Bailey Ltd. following Bailey's death in 1906, but ran the circuses separately until they were merged in 1919. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus's logo as of 2022.

Where did the circus winter in Florida? ›

From 1927 to 1959, Sarasota was the winter home of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey combined circus. Before Disney, the winter circus in Sarasota was Florida's biggest attraction.

Are there any circus elephants left? ›

Several hundred Asian elephants live in the United States, the majority of them in zoos. Most of the rest live in sanctuaries or refuges; a handful are still owned by circuses, performing in states and communities where that use of wild animals is still legal.

Do circuses still use animals Ireland? ›

The use of wild animals in circuses will be banned in Ireland from January 2018. Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has signed new regulations banning the use of wild animals in circuses. "The use of wild animals for entertainment purposes in circuses can no longer be permitted.

Are animals in circuses banned? ›

Six states already ban or restrict the use of wild animals in traveling exhibitions. In 2018, Hawaii and New Jersey banned the use of most wild animals in both circuses and traveling acts. In 2019, California banned the use of all animals, with the exception of dogs, cats, and domesticated horses, in circuses only.

Where do circus animals live? ›

Wild animals used in circuses spend nearly 96 percent of their entire lives in chains or cages. They spend their lives being carted from town to town, state to state, for 11 months out of the year. Often, the boxcars wild animals travel in have no climate control, meaning the animals endure extreme weather conditions.

How long does a circus stay in one place? ›

Generally, a circus will spend between a few days and two weeks at a particular location, sometimes longer. For example, during May 2008, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Gold Tour planned to visit seven locations, the Red Tour three locations, and the Blue Tour five locations.

Where is the Ringling Brothers train now? ›

The train cars are located on abandoned tracks in the woods about 4,000 feet from the town limits of Spring Hope near 518 S. Old Franklin Road, officials said.

How many circuses are there in the US? ›

ADI estimates (conservatively) that there are currently around 300 exotic/wild animals with US circuses. There are currently around 18 non-animal circuses (human-only performances).

Why are circuses banned? ›

The wild animals commonly abused in circuses are extremely stressed by circus conditions. The loud noise of the music, the cheers of the crowd and the dizzying lights all disorientate and cause stress to wild animals. Over prolonged periods this can result in abnormal behaviours and health problems related to anxiety.

Are horses still used in circuses? ›

And while horses and ponies are among the most commonly used animals in circuses, they receive the least protection, as they are excluded from the regulation under the Animal Protection Act.

Are circuses banned in the UK? ›

ENGLAND. In July 2019, the UK government passed a law banning the the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England. The ban came into force on 20th January 2020.

Are circus animals treated well? ›

Circus Cruelty

Animals in circuses are often beaten, shocked, kicked, or cruelly confined in order to train them to be obedient and do tricks. With elephants, the abuse begins when they are babies to break their spirits. All four of the baby elephant's legs are chained or tied for up to 23 hours per day.

What states are circuses banned? ›

Six states ban the use of certain exotic or wild animals in traveling animal acts or circuses: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York.

Are circus elephants legal? ›

As of January 1, 2020, new legislation has passed that prohibits the use of exotic animals in circuses within California.

Why are there no elephants at the circus? ›

For years, animal welfare groups criticized and picketed the circus for what they deemed unfair and cruel treatment of wild animals, particularly its elephants.

What is the most famous circus in the world? ›

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a traditional circus from US founded in 1907. They call themselves “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

Why are elephants not in the circus? ›

They are widely considered inhumane and have even been banned in several cities. Without them, circuses can't keep performing elephants, because fear and pain is the only way to motivate an elephant to perform tricks.

Videos

1. People React To The Closing Of Ringling Bros. Circus
(CBS Chicago)
2. Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years
(WPRI)
3. Historic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Says Goodbye After 146 Years | NBC News
(NBC News)
4. Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years
(WFLA News Channel 8)
5. Circus Closing Down
(WFLA News Channel 8)
6. Former Ringling Brothers clown remembers show before it shuts down for good
(WCBD NEWS 2)
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