May 21, 2017, was the final curtain call for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Dogged by animal rights issues and facing declining ticket sales, the 146-year-old circus gave its last performance.

Photographer Julie Jacobson was able to go behind the curtains at the circus' final few shows, capturing what the last few weeks as a clown or performer looks like. Looking through the photos — as the one thing binding them together comes to an end — feels like stealing a glimpse into a high school yearbook on the very last day of school.

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