Color photograph of a clown on a reddish orange background with red text and a yellow ribbon with black text on it with a red light where the clowns nose is, it blinks when turned on
For its 125th anniversary of The Greatest Show on Earth in 1995 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus launched its first national campaign with Sears as a sponsor. Sears continued to sponsor the show until 1999. P.T. Barnum began The Greatest Show on Earth in 1871, and he joined forces with the Cooper and Bailey Circus in 1881. The Ringling Brothers who started a small circus in Wisconsin in 1884 bought the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth in 1907. The Irvin and Israel Feld family owned and ran the show from 1967 until 2017. Animal activists, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, have protested the circus since the 1980s. In 1995 the circus established the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation. The final show with elephants was held in May 2016, and with low attendance rates and high operating costs, the circus ended with its final show in May 2017.