Following the closing of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, could America’s zoos soon face a similar fate?
PETA activist Ashley Byrne says the closure of “The Greatest Show on Earth” is just the start.
She cited the notorious 2016 incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, where Harambe the gorilla was shot after a child fell into his compound, as an example of animals suffering in zoos.
“Animals deserve better. They deserve better than to be put on display for entertainment,” she told Inside Edition. "Even in zoos, animals are being deprived of everything that is natural and important to them."
Undercover video released by PETA in 2009 showing elephant handlers striking the animals fueled the controversy over the alleged mistreatment of circus elephants.
Ringling Brothers retired its elephant acts last May. It was the beginning of the end for the circus as ticket sales dropped dramatically.
Seventy elephants now live at the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida and sanctuaries will be found for other animals in the circus.
There was controversy involving human acts, too. In 2014, eight women acrobats who hang by their hair, known as hairialists, were injured when some rigging collapsed.
The announcement that the146-year-old circus is folding its tent came as a shock.
On CBS This Morning, Gayle King said Monday: “Remember when you went to the circus as a little kid? It's different!”
Legendary high wire walker Nik Wallenda, who started out with Ringling Brothers, spoke to Inside Edition about the closure.
"I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Ringing Brothers. It is hard to hear after 146 years they are going to shut down," he said.
Juliette Feld, whose family owns Ringling Brothers, says she's hoping for record crowds for the last remaining shows as fans say goodbye.
"When we took the elephants off the touring units there was a steep drop in ticket sales, much greater than anything we could have anticipated," she told Inside Edition.
But famous animal rights activists are rejoicing.
Pamela Anderson tweeted: “It's over. The saddest show on earth for wild animals will end.”
Ricky Gervais called it “a victory for humanity.”
Seth MacFarlane tweeted: “Good riddance!”
Ringling Brothers will hold their final circus in May inside Long Island's Nassau Coliseum.