MUMBAI, India (AP) — Circuses once held legendary status in India as entertainment for everyone from princes to pariahs.

The biggest names pitched their tents in town centers, drawing huge crowds night after night.

The modern circus here is a 130-year-old tradition that began when a southern rajah's horse trainer was taunted by the leader of a visiting Italian show, who said India couldn't build its own circus.

In the 1990s, 300 circuses operated throughout the country. That number has dwindled to about 30.

And many of those are being hammered by the rising rents for field space, shrinking revenues and, crucially, two Supreme Court rulings that took away the industry's main attractions: wild animals and child performers.