NEW YORK — THE circus is coming, the circus is coming - to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, and other points south. It is also coming to Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines, and other points east.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the ``Greatest Show On Earth'' - also the largest circus company in the United States - is expanding its operations overseas, first to Latin America and then to Asia, according to Kenneth Feld, president and chief executive officer of Ringling Bros. Mr. Feld announced last week that he would add a new touring show to the circus within the next 18 months, targeted at Latin America, and then another unit two years later for Asia.
Mr. Feld said he was launching the two new circus units in part because of ``growing consumer markets'' in South America and Asia. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a division of Irvin Feld & Kenneth Feld Productions Inc., with headquarters in Vienna, Va.
``There is not a large proliferation of circuses in either South America or Asia now, yet there are many fine arenas that we can play in,'' says Allen Bloom, executive vice president of Irvin Feld & Kenneth Feld Productions.
Presently, two Ringling Bros. productions crisscross the US, in each case taking two years to complete their cycle of cities, Mr. Bloom says. There are about 350 people involved in each show, including performers and workers, plus another 150 animals. The two shows travel by train.
The circus's move into South America and Asia comes just as the Feld company prepares to celebrate the 125th anniversary next year of the original circus established by P. T. Barnum in the early 1870s. The Ringling brothers bought out the combined Barnham and Bailey company in 1907 and then merged operations in 1919. In the mid 1950s, the company shifted from performing under ``Big Tops'' -
outdoor tents - and moved into ``well-ventilated, air-conditioned, indoor arenas,'' Bloom says.
Bloom says Latin America and Asia seemed like more logical places than Europe to expand at this time since there are 700 to 800 circuses in Europe.