Guangzhou zoo in Guangdong province is considering taking legal action against a circus troupe that refuses to shut down its show at the zoo.
The zoo informed the circus troupe in July that they would not renew its contract with them when it expired at the end of August, the zoo said in statement on Monday.
The zoo plans to use the circus venue to build a scientific exhibition center.
But the circus continued to sell tickets for shows.
The venue was leased to the circus operator from Anhui province in 1993 and shows have been performed six times a day for more than 24 years.
Huang Yingzhi, head of the circus, said his troupe received notice to close the show on Aug 14 but was negotiating with the zoo to continue the show.
"We still have about 70 animals - monkeys, bears, tigers, gorillas and parrots - and our employees refused to leave, insisting there was no reason to close the circus," Huang said.
The circus performances feature monkeys riding bikes, gorillas playing drums and bears doing headstands on high-rise bars.
"More than 13 million people from around the country have watched the shows in the past 24 years and the number of audiences has not declined in recent years," he said.
Circus shows have been opposed by animal rights advocates as they can involve animal abuse.
Zoo director Li Xingrong said the zoo's aim is to show the animals in the most natural state possible.
"In recent years, we have installed facilities in the zoo to improve the activities and living conditions for the animals," Li said.
Visitors have mixed feelings about the closure of the circus.
"The animal shows brings excitement to children and are loved by children," said a mother surnamed Chen.
But Hu Yaoyang, a white collar worker in Guangzhou, said the circus shows should have shut down earlier as they mistreat animals for profits.