BARABOO, Wis. — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus is returning with a big change: No animals.
Elephants in particular have been a staple to circuses for decades.
According to the Associated Press, the circus took down its tents after years of declining ticket sales as customers became conflicted about the treatment of circus animals. Costly court battles led to the end of elephant acts in 2016. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals have praised the “animal-free revamp.”
The Ringling Brothers started in 1884 in Baraboo, Wis. By 1888, there were elephants in the city.
Circus World in Baraboo, Wis., acts as a museum of sorts. It's a national historic landmark site featuring seven buildings and hundreds of artifacts from more than 100 circuses. Circus World also features Big Top-style performances.
After Ringling Brothers' multi-year hiatus, Circus World's executive director, Scott O'Donnell, said he was excited to hear it was returning this summer.
"It's exciting to have it coming back and it's exciting for us to continue to celebrate that legacy," O'Donnell said.
The team at Circus World said they do not think the lack of animals will detract from the circus whatsoever.
"Whatever form they will bring it back in, it's going to be wonderful entertainment," Dave SaLoutus, a retired ringmaster, said.
He said he believes audiences will still be captivated.
"Oh, I know they will have to put all the production elements into it. They'll run little storylines through it. The costuming oh no doubt will knock your socks off. The lighting, the special effects, the music. It'll be a good show," SaLoutus said.
Circus World is also phasing out elephants at its performances. The elephants will return to Baraboo this summer for one final season. Due to the age of the animals, it will be their final bow. Circus World will not bring new elephants in, but instead focus on other elements of the shows.
Both SaLoutus and O'Donnell said they expect Ringling Brothers will showcase death-defying stunts in the show instead of wild animals.
"Whether you're [3-years-old or] 103, take the family. You'll be more than happy and glad that you did," O'Donnell said.
Circus World representatives said they were not consulted about the Ringling Brothers reboot, but are thrilled Wisconsin was chosen as one of the first six states for the upcoming tour.
The circus' Fiserv Forum performance is slated for Oct. 13 to 15. Learn more here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.