The show must go on: Ringling Bros. reopens 4 days after accident

HARTFORD, Conn.- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened in Hartford on Thursday, four days after an acrobatic stunt went awry, injuring nine performers and abruptly halting the circus in Providence, R.I.

While seven acrobats remained in the hospital, including at least two in serious condition, the circus was scheduled to perform eight shows through Sunday.

"I'm pleased to report that our performers are continuing to improve," circus spokesman Stephen Payne said at a news conference.

The condition of two acrobats was upgraded to fair, and two others remain in serious condition. Three others have asked that their medical conditions not be made public.

Federal health and safety inspectors and circus officials have not identified a "definitive cause" for the accident that sent eight acrobats plummeting to the ground, Payne said. A clip at the top of the apparatus snapped.

The "human chandelier" stunt, in which performers hang by their hair from a suspended apparatus, won't be performed and will not be replaced "at this time," said Nicole Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment.

The medical team treating the acrobats said Wednesday that two have spinal cord injuries and it's not known if they'll walk again.

Asked if a net might be used in the future, Payne said that because the act went up and down, "We're not entirely sure a net would have really added any safety feature," he said.

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