Ding-A-Lings kill Ringling’s

It’s been on all the major news shows, so I’m sure most folks have heard this already.

Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending.


After 146 Years, Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Circus To Shut Down

January 15, 20171:04 AM ET

Now you might think that a business model that worked fine for nearly a Century & 1/2 would be something you can rely on. You would be right. So why did it break? IMHO they were challenged by other venues (from Cirque du Soleil doing great ‘center ring’ shows nation wide to zoos getting their acts together more), but what really was the final straw was a mix of rising costs (look at the ‘production qualities’ of their current center ring shows…) and the demise of the Elephants.

The Elephants on parade was iconic of their brand. On all their images everywhere. They were right up there with Tigers as The Big Draw. Remove the animals from the circus and it isn’t a circus anymore. It’s a traveling vaudeville show with nauseating carnival rides.

Feld announced the news on the company website Saturday night, citing declining ticket sales — which dipped even lower as the company retired its touring elephants.

“This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” Feld says.

Ringling has been phasing out elephants as a result of shifting public tastes and criticism from animal rights groups over the well-being of the animals.

Now how hard is it to make a connection between ‘phasing out FOO’ and “dropping ticket sales”? Really? I’m doing FOO and it hurts when I do FOO. Golly, maybe I’ll do more FOO! /sarc;

That’s the depth of their reasoning skill.

A TV interview had a Circus Representative saying ~”When we got rid of the elephants, ticket sales dropped a lot more than we expected”. Well Duh! You were seen as gutting your show to please the PC Police. I’d not let my kid see that kind of shameful knuckle under either. You can make a good product that people want to buy, or you can be Politically Correct and go out of business. You choose “piss off my customers to please the idiots who don’t attend”.

Elephants had been a circus mainstay almost as long as the circus itself has been a staple of American entertainment, since Phineas Taylor Barnum introduced Jumbo, an Asian elephant in 1882.

But before the traveling exhibition evolved into a regular destination for wholesome family fun, Barnum “made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin,” reports the AP. “Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.”

So let’s see… We had animal acts, and we had floor show, and we mixed them and had spectacular success. THEN we start eliminating one of them and sales drop. Gee… wonder why…

So what have they got to sell now? Oh, a vaudeville / juggling act and bad food.

IMHO, the Feld family most likely had too many other businesses to really care about this one, and just wanted the PC Police to go away.

The Feld family bought Ringling in 1967 and employs about 500 people for both touring shows “Circus Extreme” and “Out of This World.”

IMHO, this is really a lesson in what happens when you give in to PC Police. You die.

The animals will now all die and they will not have progeny. This is good for them how?

As working animals, they had a pretty nice niche. Caregivers who tended them. Doctors when sick. Food brought as needed. Predators kept away. Rehearsal and a few shows a few days a week, then a road tour. Heck, I’d sign up for that! (As, it would seem, did a few hundred other people).

Now THE key thing the PITA folks and related forget is simple: No work for them, the animals are extirpated. Dead. Gone. No joy. Nobody is going to sink the money into keeping those animals alive for generations with zero money to do it. They may keep some of them alive on a retirement farm until they expire (just to keep the flack down) but the herd will be extinguished. Do you really think that’s what the herd wants? To all die?

Yes, they had to work for a living. So do the cows in a dairy. So does the dog herding sheep. So does my kid… So?

With any luck, the Feld Family can be coaxed into selling the rights to someone who actually cares about the Circus and the tradition of it. In my dinky farm town, we had a much smaller traveling circus come to town (RB B&B was in the Big City an hour away… got to see it once as a treat). WHY do I have great fondness for Elephants and Tigers? Because I saw them performing and working with people when I was about 5 years old and loved it (and by extension, them). I realized these animals had brains, knew their routine, could hit their spot on the stage, and frankly seemed to enjoy showing off some times. THAT was the moment a bear turned from a predator in the forest (to be killed) into a performer with personality. Kill off that experience, in 50 years nobody will give a damn about Elephants, Tigers, Bears, or much of any other animal. They become vague concepts from a screen, not something experienced with awe.

Does a zoo ‘cut it’ as an alternative? Nope. All you see there is, if you are lucky, a bored to tears animal trying to sleep despite that noise from the other side of the fence. You don’t see the personality nor the intelligence nor the sheer ability of the animals. They become ‘a thing apart’ instead of a ‘kindred spirit in actions’. Zoos are nice, and we visit them every year if possible, but they are not able to showcase the skill and intelligence of the animals. Specimens at a distance are NOT the same as an emotional bond to a performer.

Bottom Line

The lesson all companies need to take away from this is simple:

Give in to the Loony Left PC Police and go out of business.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Ding-A-Lings kill Ringling’s

  1. R. Shearer says:

    I blame global warming.

  2. John F. Hultquist says:

    About 20 years ago a circus came to town and invited the locals to come at the time the big trucks arrived at the grounds. We watched as they unloaded the Elephants, cared for them, and then went to work. By work I mean helping to set up the Big Top. They carried and held tall poles. Meanwhile a truck with smaller stakes went in an oval and used an hydraulic presser to push those into the ground. Ropes and pulleys were placed, the tent was rolled out, and then the Elephants were asked to pull the tent into place. Up it went. For us, this experience was more interesting than the show inside would have been, had we gone. We’d seen such before.
    Some things are only memories. How many kids have rushed out to the arms of parents or grandparents on an arriving plane, and maybe into that plane and be greeted by the pilot?

  3. Gail Combs says:

    Mercedes Lackey is a fantasy writer. Misty and her hubby writer/artist Larry Dixon are also licensed raptor rehabilitators. Misty wrote a short story back in the 1990’s (1995?) that stuck with me. Well she wrote two with the same type of theme, the idiocy of PC and animal rights. I might be able to drag the other out of my massive SF&F collection if I can remember the title….

    **********************************WET WINGS******************************

    […] Magic. That was a word hard to find written any more.

    No one approved of magic these days. Strange that in a country that gave the Church of Gaia equal rights with the Catholic Church, that no one believed in magic.

    But “magic” was not correct. It was not given equally to all, nor could it be given equally to all. And that which could not be made equal must be destroyed….

    “We always knew that there would be repression and a burning time again,” she told the butterfly […]
    So many people had come to her over the years, demanding to be taught.
    Some had the talent and the will; most had only delusions […]

    Eventually they found someone; in one of the many movements that sprouted on the fringes like parasitic mushrooms. She, like the other mages of her time, had simply shaken her head and sighed for them. But what she had not reckoned on, nor had any one else, was that these movements had gained strength and a life of their own— and had gone political. Somehow, although the process had been so gradual she had never noticed when it had become unstoppable, those who cherished their delusions began to legislate some of those delusions. “Politically Correct’ they called it— […]
    Some of the things they had done she had welcomed. seeing them as the harbingers of more freedom, not less.

    But they had gone from reasonable to unreasoning; from demanding and getting a removal of sexism to a denial of sexuality and the differences that should be celebrated. From legislating the humane treatment of animals to making the possession of any animal or animal product without licenses and yearly inspections a crime. Fewer and fewer people bothered owning a pet these days—no, not a pet, an ‘Animal Companion” and one did not ‘own” it, one “nurtured” it. Not when inspectors had the right to come into your home day or night, make certain that you were giving your Animal Companion all the rights to which it was entitled. And the rarer the animal, the more onerous the conditions….

    […] She shook her head and sighed. They had sucked all the juice of life out of the world, that was what they had done. Outside, the gray overcast day mirrored the gray sameness of the world they had created. There were no bright colors any more to draw the eye, only pastels. No passion, no fire, nothing to arouse any kind of emotions. They had decreed that everyone must be equal, and no one must be offended, ever. And they had begun the burning and the banning….

    She had become alarmed when the burning and banning started; she knew that her own world was doomed when it reached things like “Hansel and Gretel”….

    banned not because there was a witch in it, but because the witch was evil, and that might offend witches. […]

    From “Werehunter” – April 1, 1999
    by Mercedes Lackey
    Major plug. A great gift idea for the women/ girls in your circle, especially those with a PC bent. Misty manages to take sly potshots on occasion.

  4. philjourdan says:

    I worked at a local theme park when I was in college. They use to bring in the Hannaford (sp) Circus in the fall to boost business. I saw how the animals were treated behind the scenes. I have never been to a circus since. I know that a second rate circus is not the RB&BB top tier, and given their attention and professionalism, the animals were treated a lot better. But images stick with you.

    I am part of the reason they closed up. But I was not an idiot about it. I have not campaigned or even really relayed that story since that time. It is just my personal decision.

  5. Around 10 years ago, I took my daughter to the circus that occasionally visits here. As it happens, a first time for both of us. It was of course a pretty small circus, with no elephants anyway, but they did have some big cats (tigers) who performed. Before the show, I looked at those cats pacing in their small cages, and during the show they looked pretty bad-tempered and were obviously doing what they were forced to do (the whip was obviously needed, and not for show) rather than doing anything enjoyable. The trapeze artists didn’t do anything spectacular, the juggling was pretty simple, and though I remembered watching the circus on TV at Christmas when I was young and enjoying it, I didn’t find this one had any magic at all. Neither did my daughter. We didn’t go again. Maybe it’s only the big circuses that can still create a worthwhile experience.

    I’m thus somewhat ambivalent about circuses. It’s true that if the animals don’t work and don’t make their owners some profit, then one way or another there will be fewer of those animals. Travelling circuses may be how some people get to see those animals in person, and a trip to a zoo (if they are still profitable) may be a long one. The best conservationists are probably those who make money from the hunting of those animals (since there will need to be culls anyway) and it’s pretty lucrative business letting dentists shoot lions for a big fee.

    After WWII, there was an elephant used to pull a milk-float in the UK, but I can’t find a picture to attach. Oh well. Whereas in India elephants are used in logging operations, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of use for them in modern society.

  6. Gail Combs says:

    I know of at least two independents who have elephants for rides at county fairs and another guy who has riding camels and zedonks for exhibition (Zebra-donkey X). I bought ponies from all three. All of those independents took very good care of their animals and had a nice home base. I also know some independents who travel with tigers, another with exotic cattle (driven oxen) and a couple with riding long horns. I never saw any of them mistreating their animals ‘after hours’ and I keep running into them at the gigs I do with my ponies.

    Generally you just don’t get into the business, at least now a days, unless you really love animals. There is no real money in it and a heck of a lot of work…. OH I forgot the guy with the racing pigs and the other guy with the snakes.

    Inflatables link — Bouncy houses and such DON’T EAT! They are easy to set-up, easy to move in a trailer box truck and take little space to store. Even better you can hire students to do the grunt work and you don’t have to do as much training or as much oversight as you do with animals. So that is what you are seeing more and more. Those independents with inflatables will some times contract with people like us with ponies or petting zoos or exotics although most venues just go direct.

    The Politically Correct types have done a pretty good job of driving ‘performing animals’ into extinction. They have targeted the diving horses, carriage horses, rodeos, petting farms and of course circuses.

    The diving horses of Atlantic City (11 photos)

    The trainer of the horses said only some horses would dive. You could get a horse to dive ONCE but only those who loved it would dive the second time. I tend to believe him because I had a couple of saddlebreds you could not get out of the pond. The son of one of them would put his whole head under water and blow bubbles and a daughter would stand with her feet in the water tank when we put her in a pasture without a pond.

  7. D. J. Hawkins says:

    When Ringling Bros. did their yearly pilgrimage to the Meadowlands in NJ the train would off-load at a siding next to our site. I worked for Matheson at the time. The elephants and zebras and such would walk through the plant gate at one side and out the other, making their ponderous way down Paterson-Plank Road toward the arena. I left the company, the site is now a mall complex, and all that’s left are the memories. Curse the fools! They never learn, once you pay the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

    For the future that never will be, folks can grab a copy of Barry Longyear’s books The City of Baraboo, Circus World, and Elephant Song and find temporary solace therein.

  8. Power Grab says:

    @ Gail: “There were no bright colors any more to draw the eye, only pastels. No passion, no fire, nothing to arouse any kind of emotions. They had decreed that everyone must be equal, and no one must be offended, ever.”

    I may have to look for that book. That excerpt mentions many things I have found myself wondering about lately.

    The part about no bright colors reminds me of how it felt to see Walmart paint its facade some dingy shade of grey-brown (I guess you would call it “taupe” if you were trying to make it sound chi-chi) some years ago. If I had to guess, I would guess that somber colors make consumers buy less, not more. Is that what they were going for?

    That, and the many ugly, UGLY decorator schemes in homemaking magazines and websites these days, is always a downer. It reminds me of how the ChiComs always dressed in those somber, bland uniforms.

    So while others have (I assume) snapped up the black-over-wood-products furniture that they make in China, while kicking their solid wood vintage furniture to the curb…I have snapped up those solid wood cast-offs. I never had a china cabinet before, but I found a nice big one that is probably from the 1970s. I think I paid less than $200 for it. The eyebrow detail on the windows looks a bit like the eyebrow tops of the chairs of the Duncan Phyfe dining table and 6 chairs that probably were made in the 1950s. I think I paid $85 for the table and chairs. The wood finish on the china cabinet and table and chairs is similar enough to suit me. The crown molding on the top of the china cabinet is reminiscent of the crown molding on the top of 1904(?) piano, a piano which sounds amazing good even though it’s so old. The high notes just sparkle and the low notes really rumble! It was free. When I give lessons, I use that antique piano. The decorative grooves on the pedestals of the dining table are similar to the decorative grooves on the little nightstand I got this past summer.

    My mom used to have a set of those copper Mirro canisters when I was growing up. I decided to get a bunch of them to unify the look of the containers that have to sit out (I have precious little cabinet space). I ended up with 10 canisters and a nice breadbox and cake carrier that match. I guess that kicks it up into the category of a “collection”, huh?

    Then I decided I needed something copper for a centerpiece on the table. I got a couple different sized colanders and a potpourri pot that are all that lovely shiny copper finish. And some place mats that have a photograph of a bunch of shiny copper pots hanging on a wall.

    I don’t know what to call the finish on the furniture and piano. Maybe red chestnut? Of course, as old as it all is, it probably started out a different color. Maybe mahogany?

    I knew a couple who decorated their entire home in antiques. They figured it made better financial sense than buying the latest styles. To get really durable pieces, you’d have to pay a lot. But if you paid less, you could count on the pieces’ not lasting very long. But if you shopped carefully, you could pick some serviceable antiques that were better made than most modern furniture, and would at least hold their value, if not increase in value.

    The same goes for glassware and kitchen gadgets. I have a nice collection of Anchor Hocking(?) molded glassware (I think it’s supposed to look like cut glass) that I fully expect to outlive the last modern glass tumbler of the set I bought in 2006. It didn’t take much for those modern glasses to break in less than 3 years. I think we had molded glasses like these when i was growing up. At least, I know we had some that came in cartons of oatmeal!

    Sorry to be so OT. I guess I could have my kid get on and describe how it felt to be knocked down by the old matriarch cow of the herd. She probably didn’t think we were getting her feed quick enough. Yeah, that’s it!

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:

    I’ve got some old Cherry Wood pieces that were old when I was 8. The owner lived in an apartment above our family restaurant and when she died (of very old age) it was given to my Dad… They will be given to my kids in a few years (or hopefully decades…)

    They have not been refinished in 60 years that I know of, but I might give them a light touch up with a nice tung oil wood rub…

    BTW, the outside facade of stores is often set by CC&Rs with the shopping mall. Some of them require exactly and only one color of signage… Walmarts here tend to have their standard Blue signs in their own properties. One local mall, owned by Chinese I think, requires a particularly obnoxious red…

  10. Power Grab says:

    Our newer shopping centers have standard facades, but the Walmart I’m speaking of is a stand-alone store. Walmart even built the building originally, something like 20 years ago, IIRC.

    I suppose the current trend of blandness and industrial ugliness in decorating is just a swing of the pendulum. I don’t care for it at all, though. It reminds me too much of the many, many years I spent with no pretty things around me. It ranks right up there with orange crate decor!

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