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News Story
Updated: 05/17/2017 09:26:14AM

Arena & elephants depart, Ringling Circus closes

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AP PHOTO
Kenneth Feld, left, CEO of Feld Entertainment Inc., and his daughters, from right, Juliette, Alana, and Nicole, feed elephants Alana and Icky at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, in Polk City.

AP PHOTO
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired its iconic elephant acts in 2015.

SUN PHOTO BY KIM COOL

Tito Gaona of Venice starred as an aerialist with the Ringling Circus for more than 15 years and currently works with aerialists in the show that will close for good May 21.

SUN FILE PHOTO

The late Gunther Gebel-Williams of Venice is shown with one of his favorite tigers. He is considered the greatest animal trainer in the history of the circus. He died in Venice in July of 2001.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLES SHOUP

The exposed girders of the Venice Circus Arena were the last evidence of the structure before even that was torn down in 2015.

AP Photo
In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 photo, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, Kenneth Feld, poses for a photo, in Ellenton, Fla. Feld Entertainment, which owns The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, told The Associated Press declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing. Feld said when the company removed elephants from the shows in May of 2016, ticket sales declined more dramatically than expected.

COURTESY PHOTO
Located on 200 acres of pristine wilderness near Fantasy of Flight, the state-of-the-art Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation, created by Fled Enterprises for its retired elephants, has five outside paddock areas.

COURTESY PHOTO
Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation is celebrating 20 years in Polk City.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY VENICE MUSEUM & ARCHIVES
Elephants belonging to The Greatest Show on Earth parade over the Venice Avenue Bridge sometime after 1967 when the Intracoastal Waterway was completed at Venice. Yet to be built is the three-story home of the Venice Gondolier Sun, which today occupies property just south of the bridge at 200 E. Venice Ave. on the island part of Venice.

By KIM COOL

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On Sunday, the World will lose what Venice lost in 1992 — The Greatest Show on Earth.

Feld Enterprises, owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, announced in mid-January that the world’s best-known and 146-year-old circus would give its final performance at 3 p.m. on May 21 at the Nassau Coliseum in New York.

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