In breaking news that has stunned fans around the world, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced that the circus will cease operations this summer.  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, known and loved as "The Greatest Show on Earth," will end its 148 year run in May.

The Washington Post reports the circus made the difficult decision to close as a result of facing a myriad of challenges. In recent years, Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has struggled with declining attendance and increasing operations costs; the circus has also seen increased scrutiny from animal rights groups for its performing animals.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey recently removed elephants from its shows, relocating the elephants to a special sanctuary in Florida. The remaining animals will all go to suitable homes and the circus will continue to operate the elephant conservatory.

Your final chance to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Birmingham will be next weekend. The circus has shows at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Thursday, January 19 through Sunday, January 22, 2017. Click HERE for showtimes or to purchase tickets.