Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey closes the curtain

Posted at 3:30 PM, May 21, 2017

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus concluded 146 years of performances with a grand finale Sunday evening in New York's Nassau Coliseum on Sunday evening.

Circus managers said in January that declining attendance and increasing operating costs are forcing what is known as the "Greatest Show on Earth" to come to a close. 

Watch the final performance:

The circus originated from a show created by William Coup and PT Barnum in the 1870. Later on, Barnum joined forces with James Anthony Bailey to create the Barnum and Bailey Circus. 

In 1884, the Ringling Brothers created their own circus in Wisconsin. After two decades of barnstorming across the United States, Ringling Brothers purchased the Barnum and Bailey circus in 1907. The two shows operated independently until 1919, when Ringling Brothers combined the two acts. 

Since 1919, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey has dazzled millions, but has faced its share of controversy. 

In recent years, the circus has come under fire from animal rights activists for its treatment of animals. In May 2016, Ringling Brothers announced that it would no longer use elephants during its performances. 

Just eight months later, the circus announced it is ending the "Greatest Show." 

“The big show is gone, but circus doesn't have to be,” Stephen Craig, one of the show's clowns, said. “There are still circus fans. There are still circus performers. They will just have to meet on a different stage.”

WCPO's Tanya O'Rourke contributed to this report.