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The End of an Era: Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus Ending After 146 Years

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After 146 years, "The Greatest Show on Earth" is now coming to an end.

The owners of the Ringling Brother Barnum & Bailey Circus say a decade of declining ticket sales is forcing them to end the circus for good. NBC's Chris Pollone reported on the show that many people say was a piece of their childhood.

"Of course were sad, and it was very difficult decision to make. It's not a sustainable business model," says Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which is the company that has owned the circus for 50 years.

Ticket sales dropped even more when the elephants were removed from the show last year due to pressure from animal welfare groups.

"When the elephants left the show, we did not anticipate the absolute impact that it would have, and it was much greater than we thought," says Feld.

When the circus first opened, Ulysses Grant was president, there were just 37 states, and Coca-Cola would not be invented for another 15 years.

Although times have changed, fans attending the last show in Miami on Sunday were disappointed.

"It's sad, it's the end of an era, you know, I have great memories going with my family, and it's just another thing they don't get to experience that's something from our childhood that we did," says Katherine Sanghera, noting that her children will not get to experience the circus the same way she did growing up.

Daredevil Nik Wallenda, a highwire artist who became famous under the big top, agrees.

"It is part of my family. I bleed, sweat, eat, sleep and cry circus. It's just who I am," he says.

Owners say they will try to help their 400 performers and employees find something else to do, as well as find new homes for their animals.

The circus closes for good in May.

Fans hoping to catch one last show will have to travel a bit; the closest show to Iowa is in Cincinnati, Ohio, from March 10th - 19th.

If you don't want to go quite that far, make sure to watch to the end of the video for a little taste of what the circus is like! In 2012, Channel 13's Erin Kiernan and Sonya Heitshusen trained with two aerialists during their Workout of the Week.