The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close in May, bringing an end to more than 100 years of the famed show.
With displays of exotic animals, bright costumes and daring acrobatic stunts, the circus has been a part of American culture since the mid-1800s. Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses in 2017, traveling throughout the country to perform 30 shows.
The circus emerged out of Phineas Taylor Barnum’s popular traveling troupe of animals and human oddities, which joined with the five Ringling brothers, who performed skits in their home base of Wisconsin. The troupes grew and traveled across the U.S. by train, becoming routine family entertainment by the mid-1900s.
See photos from the circus through the years above.