Follow CBSDFW.COM: Facebook | Twitter

ELLENTON, Fla. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end “The Greatest Show on Earth” in May, following a 146-year run.

Kenneth Feld, the chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, told The Associated Press declining attendance combined with high operating costs are among the reasons for closing.

“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will hold its final performances in May of this year,” said Feld in a statement on the circus’ website.

Feld said when the company removed the elephants from the shows in May of 2016, ticket sales declined more dramatically than expected.

The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami.

“Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros,” said Feld. “The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make.”

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7 and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.

“The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations,” said Feld. “We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.”

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)