Say goodbye to the big top – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to permanently close

"The Greatest Show on Earth" will close the curtain for the last time after 146 years of circus performances.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will permanently close in May after ticket sales plummeted after retiring its elephant acts in May of 2016.

"Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop," said Kenneth Feld, circus owner and CEO of Feld Entertainment.

Along with the loss of its elephants, another factor that played a role in decreased ticket sales is the length of the show. Too long for today's generation?

Feld told the Associated Press that today's children, raised on instant gratification with modern technology, will no longer sit still for a two-hour show.

Feld Entertainment placed its elephants in its Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, where the company will continue to care for the pachyderms.

As for the show's remaining animals, the company plans to find suitable homes for its lions, tigers, camels, kangaroos, llamas, alpacas, and donkeys.

Animal welfare activists, who have long protested against Ringling Bros., see its closure as a win for animals.

In 2014, Feld Entertainment fought and won a 14-year lawsuit against multiple groups including the Humane Society of the United States, winning $25 million for malicious prosecution over claims the circus abused its elephants.

Reacting to word that the circus will not go on, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote in his blog,  "A tip of the hat to the leadership of Ringling. They’ve been bitter adversaries of The HSUS for decades, but they’ve done the right thing here. It had to be a very difficult decision, given the immense financial and emotional investments they had in this business, but closing the curtain is the right thing to do - in terms of moral and economic thinking."

Many are taking to social media to voice their opinions for and against the circus' closure, including basketball great Shaquille O'Neal.

Tight-rope daredevil Nick Wallenda, who grew up with his family of high wire artists, says of the circus, "It is part of my family. I bleed, sweat, eat, sleep and cry circus, it's just who I am."

The number of audiences who no longer view animals performing tricks as entertainment is growing.

Just last week, SeaWorld hosted its final orca performance, featuring captive killer whales soaring through the air, splashing crowds, and interacting with trainers.

SeaWorld scrutiny exploded after the scathing documentary "Black Fish" was released, showing orcas being taken from the wild decades earlier, and highlighting trainer deaths and injuries.

In response, SeaWorld also ended its orca breeding programs, making this the last generation of captive killer whales in SeaWorld's care.

This year, the marine parks will turn their current performance pools into remodeled natural-looking habitats, with new performances that will focus on orca enrichment and overall health, rather than stunts.

As the company stated, "Times have changed, and we are changing with them."

Ringling Bros. is doing the same, with its final performance scheduled for May 21st in Uniondale, New York.

The closure will also mean that around 400 people will lose their jobs.

Feld Entertainment, meanwhile, is not going away.

The company will try to place some of its circus employees within its other shows - Disney on Ice, Marvel Live, and Monster Jam.