Bob Levey, Getty Images for Feld Entertainment

Some really sad news to report as "The Greatest Show on Earth" is saying goodbye forever. The owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that the show will close forever in May after 146 years in business.

The reasons for the iconic American circus to shut down are varied. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with prolonged battles with animal rights groups have all contributed into the decision.

The circus is owned by Feld Entertainment based out of Florida.

"There isn't any one thing," said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. "This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family."

The Feld family actually bought the circus back in 1967.

The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island on May 7 and Uniondale, New York on May 21.

Feld says their existing animals - lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and llamas - will go to suitable homes. The company will continue to operate the Center for Elephant Conservation.

Some 500 people perform and work on both touring shows. A handful of these employees will be placed in positions with the company's other profitable shows - Monster Jam, Disney On Ice and Marvel Live, among others.

"We tried all these different things to see what would work, and supported it with a lot of funding as well, and we weren't successful in finding the solution," said Kenneth Feld.