LATE BREAKING UPDATE: Circus Knie to Retire its Elephants; see below
For the first time in its history, a new season may come and go without Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey producing a new edition of itself.
Reason being that, with the Gold Unit apparently being taken off the road, the remaining two units still in operation (Red and Blue) will continue presenting their same shows across a revamped itinerary of dates. Persistent rumors have pointed in this direction.
Circus Xtreme goes into its second season. Legends, embarking on its third tour, opens in Birmingham, come January.
As for the elimination of elephant acts, opines Don Covington, "Concurrently, there is no longer speculation concerning a major final farewell tour for the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey performing elephants as the current herds on the Red and Blue Units will continue to appear with the existing shows prior to retiring."
Such an idea may have been nixed by the Felds, fearing more adverse publicity from animal rights groups, who would likely seize on the historic event to push for an end to all animal acts.
Biggest Question: Will Ringling come to California in 2016, and, if so, what show will they bring? Of course, they could do a re-branding touch up with a new title and a few new acts, and technically call it a new edition.
The Gold Unit reaches the end of the line this October, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Rumors about its imminent demise have circulated for years.
When Ringling folded its tents in 1956, troupers argued that, had John Ringling North taken the show out for one final farewell tour under the big top, the Big Show would have played to packed tents
But the idea of parading the pachyderms around the track for one last season does not seem nearly as wise or appropriate. How the times have changed.
The Greatest Show on Earth, long without its big top and now without its most powerful symbols -- if we are to believe Kenneth Feld -- faces a new day of uncertainty.
The famed title GSOE was always centrally about size. The big top is long gone. So are three rings. And now, the elephants. How can it not look smaller than ever?
Update, 8/12, 4:38 PST
News in from Switzerland that Circus Knie, in 2016, will join the no-elephants parade, retiring its pachyderms, a part of the show since 1919. Not due to protests, says Franco Knie. The leading animal rights group in Switzerland, welcoming the move, nonetheless noted how well the Knie family has cared for its performing elephants.