Through the course of American history, circuses have almost always been a beloved source of entertainment. The acrobatics, clown shenanigans and animal tricks have a knack of capturing the audience’s attention and holding it, not only for the duration of the circus’ show itself but for years to come. The most renowned circus, literally called “The Greatest Show on Earth”, is the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. No longer the circus you remember as a child, they have evolved, see how they inspire and create positive change as they travel.

Photo Credit: Bill Sikes / Associated Press 
The Ringling Brothers circus continues to travel the nation, as they celebrate 145 years of circus performance fun. Evolving into something far bigger than entertainment, they dominate the circus world as they delight and amaze audiences of all ages.
 
Sarasota, FL is where you can explore the Ringling property, home to both the family mansion and the Ringling Museum of Art. The Ringling family wintered in Sarasota to get a break from freezing temps at their Wisconsin home. It is their Wisconsin roots, however, that helped this family find warm success.
 
The Ringling family’s legacy has humble origins that began by establishing their own backyard circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Out of seven sons of German immigrant August Frederick Ringling, five of the sons started performing for local audiences in 1884 after seeing a traveling circus unload from a steamboat. That burst of inspiration served the Ringling brothers well as they formed their own circus, working together to entertain and have a blast at the same time.
 
After two years of performing, the Ringling brothers obtained a donkey and a Shetland pony, beginning their animal trick acts. Back in the day, these tricks were amusing to audiences and added excitement to the show. Over time, animal acts in the circus started to raise eyebrows, causing controversy and heated discussions across the globe.
 
The use of animals in circus performance caused scrutiny from herds of animal activists with concerns about unethical animal treatment and harsh traveling conditions. The Ringling Bros. circus, acknowledging public concern, took admirable steps in the direction of conservation while not giving in to the pressure of public opinion.  They made necessary changes followed by a statement about the importance of animal conversation.

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press
In March 2015, Ringling Bros. announced the end of their elephant acts, including their famous Elephant Walk, a citywide parade of elephants announcing the circus’ arrival in each city it visited. The company said their elephant acts were projected to end by early 2018. The public responded positively to this announcement and received a pleasant surprise just one year later.
 
On May 1, 2016, the Ringling Bros.-Barnum and Bailey elephants performed their final show for the circus, surprising the nation. The Ringling Bros. circus announced the opening of their own conservation facility for their beloved elephants; a safe place where the elephants could live out their days peacefully.
 
With this huge shift in how the Ringling Bros. performs and what they express belief in, the company has become so much more than just a circus.
 
Since the Ringling Bros. elephants were born and raised in captivity, they cannot be released into the wild. The Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation is the next best thing! Located in central Florida, the Center for Elephant Conservation focuses on providing their animals with proper care while educating and researching these amazing creatures.
 
In addition to the circus and the Center for Elephant Conservation, the Ringling Bros. company also expands minds with its famous and historical Ringling Museum of Art and the stunning Cà d'Zan, the Ringling Estate (seen below) complete with solid gold bathroom fixtures!
In 2016, the Ringling Museum unveiled its center for Asian art, encouraging the public to understand and appreciate Asian culture and history. Education doesn’t stop there, either. The company founded the Ringling College of Art and Design in 1931, fueling creative minds to this day. The college, also located in Sarasota, is accredited in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts programs and offers twelve majors, each specifically oriented in visually creative fields. 
Ringling has been a household name for over 145 years and will continue to be known and cherished. With the evolution this company has accomplished, Ringling Bros. is almost sure to grow even more now that they offer conservation outreach, research and deeper education. Not to mention, they really do put on the Greatest Show on Earth!
 
Coming to Downtown Tampa with their Circus Extreme show, they take up residence at Amalie Arena January 25, 2017 - January 29, 2017, this year.  Tickets are already on sale! Follow the EVENT LINK today to secure your seats at the Greatest Show on Earth where you can experience firsthand how Ringling Brothers 2017 are more than a circus, and how they strive to inspire future generations.