Thursday, September 24, 2015

From Richard Reynolds #1

This is Katoto the big bull at Basel Zoo giving some kids a ride through the zoo.. He was one of 5 African calves (2 females and 3 males) imported from Ruaha National Park, Taganyika in Nov. 1952. This was via an expedition conducted by Director Lang of the Basel Zoo. Later, in 1956 all were sent to Circus Knie for training. In 1956 Knie toured with 7 Africans, 2 of which they already had.
By 1972, Katoto had become aggressive, very dangerous, and Basel Zoo had him euthanized during that year.
I cannot imagine giving elephant rides on a monster like this today - -anywhere.


Buckles said...

Pretty heavily armed!......he must know something.

Chic Silber said...

Not even on a howdee but

just a girthed blanket

Richard Reynolds said...

My long time friend John(Hans)Roth is a native of Basel, Switzerland and a long time zoo professional. He was once with the Basel Zoo. He sent me this information about their African elephants - -

Great photo that I have not seen before…
But as of note, the Basel 5 , Omari, Beira, Katoto, Idunda and Ruaha (which was the order they were walked according to their size and temperament when taken outside the zoo and walked through the city to a nearby forest area to enjoy roaming through the woods and play) were a very well TRAINED group taken to the Circus Knie Head quarters in Rapperswil by Walter Behrens in January of 1956. Walter was the trainer from the Hagenbeck Zoo hired originally by Director Heini Hediger. As you know I was present in person at their first public performance in Rapperswil before they then were engaged to tour with the Circus Knie all around Switzerland. I wrote an article about this historic Circus performance which was published in the local Basel Newspaper. Knie worked their two male Africans into the performance group with the Basel 5, of which one of them was acquired by Knie and arrived in Basel with the other five back in 1952.
Hediger sent Dr. Ernst Lang, who was then the veterinarian at the Basel Zoo to Tanganyika to help select and supervise the medical care of the young elephants for the zoo, and then accompany them by ship to Marseille from Africa and then by railroad all the way to Basel.
As you mention Katoto was euthanized when he became too dangerous to handle, the same as Dr. Lang did with Omari at an earlier time when he accidentally injured one of his keepers.
And, yes today this kind of personal human/animal contact is no longer practiced by zoos, in fact check the Basel Zoo Website where they explain building expanded facilities for their African Elephants and no longer will allow human contact like you see in the Katoto Picture…Well, I am sure glad I experienced those days which then directed my life into an adventurous 35 year zoo career with lots of animal contacts… The Zoo world is certainly “different” today !!!! I am living now in my 80’s with wonderful last century memories from those days…."

Unknown said...

My husband and I have more questions about circus animals and trains specifically - can you reach out to me if you see this?

Unknown said...

Email is

Chic Silber said...

Dear "Unknown"

Please tell us who you are

and what are your interests

Are you fans or protesters