Big Apple Circus files for bankruptcy, packs up its tent

The Big Apple Circus is folding its tent – at least for now.

After almost 40 years of operation and a “Save the Circus” fund raising drive in June that failed to generate enough cash for its 2016-2017 season, the Big Apple Circus has filed for bankruptcy, it announced Monday.

The nonprofit circus, conceived and founded by Paul Binder and Michael Christensen in 1977, expanded its performances to special shows for children with cognitive and physical disabilities and “Clown Care” visits at pediatric hospitals.

Its “Vaudeville Visits” served residents of senior living facilities.

Circus employees also taught teamwork, perseverance, responsibility and the performance arts in a “Circus After School” program.

Some community programs will be preserved, but may be operated by another nonprofit, according to a statement. The company did not specify which programs would survive.

Other assets of the circus, a victim of rising costs and a lack of sufficient corporate support, will be sold.

Executive director Will Maitland Weiss said in the statement he hopes the circus is not closing permanently.

“The bankruptcy filing preserves the opportunity to restart the Big Apple Circus’s one-ring show, either with new financial support or through a sale of the circus to a buyer,” the statement said.

“We are working to ensure that the spirit of the Big Apple Circus will live on,” Weiss added.