Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chair and Training (From Richard Flint)


chair and training001, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

A few weeks back there was some questioning about the use of a chair in cat acts.
Beatty is well documented, of course, and there is
reasonable suspicion that his mentor Pete Taylor could have used it.
Here is a poorly drawn illustration that first appears in Cleveland
Moffett's "Careers of Danger and Daring" series in the young people's
magazine, St. Nicholas, in 1901 but later in his book of the same
title. Moffet wrote two articles about the circus--on flyers and
animal trainers. He befriended Bill Newman of elephant fame who took
Moffet to meet George Arstingstall, another great trainer from the
1870s-80s; Moffet also spent time with Bostock and Bonavita. The
animal essay is not quite as good as the story on the flyers with its
many quotes responding to technical questions, but it is entertaining
and tells us that "One tamer used a common chair with much success
against unbroken lions. If the creature came at him, there were the
four legs in his face..."
Dick Flint
Baltimore

21 comments:

Wade G. Burck said...

Dick,
I have a picture of Boniventure framed on my wall. He cut's quite a dashing figure. Where did he and Bostock get their start and education?
Thanks,
Wade Burck

Wade G. Burck said...

Dick,
Shoot. I meant Bonivita. You and Buckles have me all paranoid now with proof reading. Bonivita and Bostock were the to men, I was asking about. Sorry
Wade Burck

Anonymous said...

Bonavita.

Wade G. Burck said...

All right Dick,
If you don't have an answer, just say so. Geez. Lol
Wade Burck

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I told you we have to go back to school to keep up with the blog.
Bob Kitto

Dick Flint said...

Sorry, Wade, just like some have to lay off the bottle for a while, I had to lay off the blog to get some work done. I thought you were being quite witty with Boniventure for Bonavita because he had an adventurous life. He was an American who hooked up with Bostock's show at Coney Island and elsewhere, then ended up in Hollywood doing films when a Polar bear mauled him to death. You should have let the name stand as a nice play on words because you made an error when you tried to correct yourself! I don't mean to jump on you and bite off the hand you write with but I can tell you it was a lion named Baltimore that bit off BonAvita's hand! True!
Dick Flint
BALTIMORE
P.S. Bostock is an old English menagerie family so Frank's start came when he was born.

Wade G. Burck said...

Dick,
Lay off the blog to get some work done!!!!! First of all get your priorities straight. There are enough people working right now, they should be able to get to yours eventually. Heres where you are needed. This should be at the top of your "to do list."
If you are through playing Limerick Larry with my poste, I want to ask you something else, as you answered my first question, once you figured out what I was asking, as I expected you to. If Bostock was English, yet I have pictures of him with a chair and a colt strapped on would that make his an "American style", or a "European style", coming from England and packing heat? There was a two pronged fork in the cage also, so I may just be assuming here. I don't want to have to keep depending on the "zoo guy's" to help me with this, Dick. It is embarrassing and doesn't seem right.
My best,
Wade

Wade G. Burck said...

Dick,
I tried to warn you. Did you see who came up with the pictures of Robert Baudy's dog act. Thats right, a "zoo guy." I don't know how that make's you feel, Harry History, but me, I'm feeling pretty sheepish.
Give the rest of your programs, to somebody else, and get back here,ASAP. Working!!!!! Dick, when I am training horse's I'm not "working". Not in the same sense as digging a ditch. What you are doing Dick, is called "playing hooky". It's different, from work.
My best,
Wade Burck

Dick Flint said...

Quick reply as I have a “long jump” today. (Don't let the cat out of the bag, you have my private email!! Your right, about playing hooky but that, too, takes away from work and I'm not used to imbibing a six-pack!). Remember that Hagenbeck is credited with introducing the "gentling" method that we now call "European." Though he probably wasn't the first to use that style for which he is, not incorrectly, given so much credit (for he did proselytize the method), that means lots of folks in Europe had a different style. One might assume Bostock was from that other, older school and so actually invigorated whatever school was in the US with his (someone needs to post that pic of Bostock in his Beatty-style getup). In simple terms, old European style is the American presentation style. Careful before you boast about this because it also means we were late learners! Just a good theory for we/I need to learn more about where all those turn-of-the-century trainers came from. Lots happening at that time: Hagenbeck produces a big show for the 1893 Chicago world’s fair and Bostock starts his big shows (both in Europe and US) shortly thereafter. So both schools invigorated a growing number of presentations in the US.
Dick Flint
Baltimore

Wade G. Burck said...

Dick,
I assumed the fear of me ratting you out, would bring you running.
Dick, I don't think "gentle method's", is an accurate term, for bottle jugging 60 orphaned cubs, that you orphaned, and posing them on stools and in wagon's. I think the proper term is "hand-rearing". Granted, a posed "still" photo, or an artist's "rendering", 4 year's later of the 8 remaining survivor's, on the same stool's, pushing the wagon, instead of riding, might be called, I guess "gentling methods, or European." I personally think this is disrespectful of the Houcks, the Baumans, the Gebels, the Proskeys, the Beatty's etc. etc. Let people use that term to explain why an act is lame, or a wildlife seminar. Can't we just call these gentlemen Great Animal Trainers? Much more deserving than that tag of "European" or "American"
I might also suggest that Germany's closer proximity to Africa and Asia, might be more accurate in describing Hagenbecks headstart, then suggesting the competitors were slow learners. Since I was a youth, I have collected and adored the wood cut's of Hagenbeck's great trek's, with 72 ostriches tied to 40 giraffe, secured to 60 elephants, led by a dozen monkey's, with the arrow's laid by 100 pelicans. It wasn't until I started working with wild animals, at the age of 18, that I truly was able to say, "how the hell did he do that?" Trust me on this, Dick. The picture of Baudy with a hindleg walking tiger, took more "training" skill and talent, than posing 2 dozen mixed species on a pyramid.
Where's Mr. Jando? Or is he "working" too? I had hoped, besides using 2 sticks instead of one, a fork instead of a chair, and bigger pieces of meat, he could have enlightened us on any other differences he may have noted in the 2 "styles". But then again, he may just point out that the reason we have to import our whip's from Europe, is that we have broken all of ours.
Dick, why did you have to go Bill Reilly on me and throw in "proselytize". Now I have to go, hat in hand, to my zoo friend's with their degrees and ask what that means. You've put me in a hell of a fix, Dick. I have been having a hard enough time justifying how they "aced" us on the Baudy pictures.
Best,
Wade Burck

P.S. What's a fair price for a program? Don't push me friend. I'll sing like a bird. LOL

joey ratliff said...

A couple of interesting notes on Bostock and Bonavita.In The Training of Wild Animals, Bostock states "that Germans and Englishman made excellent performers and trainers due to unwearying patience and good judgement." But he felt that the greatest trainer he had was Capt. Jack Bonavita, an amercan acrobat turned animal trainer.
To me probably one of the biggest disservices to the Euro/American trainer comparisons was done by the Ringling press dept. under JRN.
"Fisrt time in Ameria Dangerous Man-Killing Wild Animals That are Really Educated! Direct From Europe All Perfectly Schooled and Inculcated with Inconceivable Intelligence, Under the Personnal Direction of the Incomparable ALFRED COURT Master Trainer of the Ages. Natural Eneimies Since the Dawn Of Creation Taught with Kindness and Patience combined with Grey Matter. WITHOUT USE OF GUNFIRE, CROWBARS, ELECTRIC PERSUADERS, PYROTECHNICS OR DRAMATIC PRETENSE on the part of Court. MAKES ALL OTHER WILD ANIMAL TRAINERS FEEL LIKE NINCOMPOOPS." This is from a newspaper ad in 1940 and it is obvious what it implies. I agree with Mr. Burck that it doesn't matter where you came from. I wonder how many animals have been trained by someone saying to it, "you know I am from (pick a place)."

Wade G. Burck said...

Joey,
Forget location!!!!!! Where do I get a hold of some of that "grey matter?" That has "triumphant return", forget Evansville, written all over it.
When we were children, and unsuspecting public, it is understandable how that would have excited us. I would suggest that "Historians", need to dig a little deeper, and not get drawn to the box office by a brightly colored poster.
Best wishes friend,
Wade Burck

P.S. Did you ask your wife, what "method" she employees in the training of her sea lions? I'm going to do some research. If it turns out Hagenbeck captured the first one, like it or not, she and Jim Alexander are going to have to be "European style trainers." Also ask her what "style" she uses to study her gorillas? If she says the "Goodall style" she might have a "cross over" situation. If you think that is "splitting hairs", look what has been done with the cage act deal, in a effort at historical "accuracy." LOL

johnny said...

I believe a certain Cap Winston was a great American Seal trainer along with the Hulings and Teibors. I have not seen much on seal trainers in Europe until the Gasser family comes to light. We also had the great Walter Jennier and Buddy.

Ben Trumble said...

Here in Monterey in May folks would be happy to "train" the sea lions to stay off the sidewalk and out of the street.

Casey said...

Mr. Ratliff,
In regards to the question "I wonder how many animals have been trained by saying, you know I am from such and such" I would lay odds its very few, however I have heard many people say "You know he/she/I is from such and such" and I will give the same odds that it's always an alibi.

Wade G. Burck said...

Col.,
Please, with respect it is not about which countries trainers are the best. It is about the stereotype label of of "European style" and "American style", ie do you train your horses in the "European style" or the "American style", now that "historians" have established that one style is "gentle" and one style is "hard". I have never seen any difference in the tricks/routines taught to horses or the methods used to teach, with the exception that they are "still" able to use larger groups because of the prepared ring surface, as we are "still" able to use larger groups of wild animals because of our coliseums.
Best,
Wade Burck

johnny said...

I have taken what I feel was the best from both sides and incorporated them into my own style and for me it works. I never heard of this gentle style as opposed to a severe style. I do know that anyone who desires to be a legitimate trainer must go to school [so to speak] from first grade to twelvth and you can't miss or skip any grades along the way. To go past twelvth you must have very high marks in all the previous grades. Above all you have to enjoy what you are doing and do your mental homework before each actual training session. Of course "easy does it".

johnny said...

P.S. We are always learning and never get to the point where we "know it all".

Buckles said...

Mac MacDonald estimated that he did maybe five or six perfect acts in a season.
When I mentioned this to Bobby Gibbs he said, "Hell, I did that many last week!"

johnny said...

Interesting that Mac Donald rated himself. I have always rated my performances as well as percentages. Generally, say an 80 per cent personal satisfaction if all is going well, but rarely a 100 per cent, but I am certainly aware of it when it happens. Its nice to know, but its personal unless someone is intereted. Once an act is flowing along and you and the animals are comfortable is reward in itself. Especially with liberty and high school horses.

Wade G. Burck said...

Col.,
You got that right about learning. In the animal profession if I haven't learned something by 5:00PM, I look a lot closer so the day isn't a loss.
I have used a simpler formula for judging how my acts went.
Great or sucked, usually covers it, regardless of who is interested.
Wade Burck