(NBC News) After nearly 150 years, the show will not go on for the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is performing its final act on Sunday.

Throughout its 146 year history, the massive, traveling circus elated crowds from small towns to big cities across America with its exotic animals, mile-long trains and death-defying feats — but not without courting its fair share of controversy.

As Ringling Bros. prepares to take its final bow before a sold-out crowd at Nassau Coliseum in the suburbs of New York City, circus performers and enthusiasts lamented the shutting down of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Yet animal rights activists who have sparred with Ringling for years said the end could not come soon enough.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.