Circus giant wants chance to save Ringling Brothers show

Nik Wallenda would buy show from Feld Ent.
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 16:44:12-05

For the last time the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus will open in Tampa tomorrow. Tickets are getting thin for Wednesday's opening show but for the rest of the weekend there are plenty. ABC Action News spoke with a circus giant who still wants to try and find a way to save it.

A nearly 150-year-old iconic show closing its curtains.

RELATED: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

"I was heartbroken." said Nik Wallenda.

His name, easily recognizable as a circus superstar. The very same man who walked across Niagara Falls on live TV. He has a deep connection to the Greatest Show on Earth.

"Mainly because that's where my family got their start in America," he said.

The permanent closing blamed on declining ticket sales and on the phasing out of elephants after numerous battles with animal rights activists.

Wallenda says the news came fast but he believes he could have saved the show.

"I wish there was more of an opportunity for others to take on the role of running that show," he said.

While the news was unexpected, Wallenda says public perception on circuses has been pretty negative for a while.

RELATED: Ringling Bros. animals could end up in sanctuaries

"My parents, in fact, pushed me to go to college and said you know what seven generations, 200 years of history, you need to pack up your bags because the circus is going away," said Wallenda.

He defied them and went on to set world records. According to the New York Times, the circus industry is booming...outside of the United States. Here some circus companies are having a hard time making money and keeping the art alive.

"What we do is appealing to all ages from one to 101 and I can tell you it's about changing with the times," he said.

Wallenda insists despite Ringling closing there's many more great circus acts across the nation. He attributes his own success to keeping up with changing technology and a shifting society. He believes this is a wake up call for the art of American circus to innovate.