Wednesday, December 27, 2006

From Raffaele De Ritis (Wednesday) #1

Turin, Italy, November 1963. This is the world premiere of the Togni-Castilla-Williams association of Circo Americano (the name exixted in Spain by 1956, but as a one-ring by Castilla).
For this season, they united the Williams and Togni elephants in a single act. 11 of them are from Williams, the other owned by Togni: the total is 26.
This is one of the largest ever elephant presentations for a single routined act in a same space.
The peoples in the ring are Enis brothers Bruno and Willy Togni, their father Ferdinando and Gunther Gebel Williams.
When separated for the summer season, Americano elephants was alternately presented by Bruno Togni, Willi Togni or Erwin Bauer. Flavio Took over in 1976. Posted by Picasa


Nippledad said...

Good Morning..
For anyone interested in watching elephants.. LIVE..
I'm watching two elephants in the National Zoo in Washington. The site is at:

Anonymous said...

I certainly enjoy all the photos and commentary in regard to elephants and trainers from abroad, but there is one fact and certainly not criticizm that I would like to refer to in the field of American elephant trainers. And that is and has been the case going back to Bill Emery, Chris Seitz, Bert Noyes, Gardner, Reed and then McDonald, Woodcock Sr., Slivers and those trainers from the generation preceeding us and now Rex, Buckles, Smokey, Bucky, both Garys [Johnson and Jacobson], Charly Gray of those who come to mind including myself. This is because the methods of training have pretty well been handed down by word of mouth or hands on working with an older pro. The main fact being we all know and respect each other and do not harbor any trade secrets. So every young elephant in the very initial training is taught to lay down completely on its side to the inside or on its left side toward the trainer. Once this is established then the training can proceed from there. Half of the trainers that I am aware of would, once they are laying down would then proceed to rolling into a ground sit up, while others would let them up and do the ground sit up a different way, but either way the ground sit up would also be definitely established as well. So in every three ring display of show owned elephants the one important routine would be a complete lay down in unison and then at command of the Captain observing from the center ring would call out the command for the ground sit up also in unison.
I became aware that this was not the rule with European elephants in the fact that not all of the Hugo-Axel elephants were trained for this and certainly not a large number of Gebel-Williams elephants. In Mexico while re-routining the six Atayde elephants the English elephant, Safari, lay down on what we call the wrong siide while the other American trained elephants did the usual lay down and sit up. I note that elephants trained by the Smahas here in America did all lay down and sit up.
This is only my observation and certainly open to comment.
Very truly yours John Herriott'

Anonymous said...

In effect every American circus elephant knows to lay down on its side in the barn for being swept off. It was always kind of neat to see Gunther Gebel with a broom, while the elephants were standing up on the picket line jump from back to back sweeping them off. What an agile guy he was.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Mr. De Ritas comments in that these acts he discribes were Choreographed [hope I spelled it right. Hell us old show bums never heard of that word. To us it was the routine, or as some of my brothers in our fraternity would say ,Rowteen. Neverthless this lay down routine would invarably be played by the circus band leader with the strains of GOOD NIGHT SWEETHEART, and then the general music for an elephant act would consist of ROYAL DECREE,THE MERRY-GO-ROUND BROKE DOWN and LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN. I can hear it now

Anonymous said...

Johnny, it is not music you are hearing, "London Bridge is Falling Down". It is those tornados down there. Look outside.

Anonymous said...

A case in point in regard to the two different styles of training. When a few short years ago Ringling Red elected to have three rings of performing elephant routines and newcomer trainer was assigned some three or four of the German elephants plus one American trained elephant by the pwers that be during that time. None of the German adult elephants had ever been a part of any trick by trick routine in a circus ring, so trainer Roy Wells had to work around with what he had and did come with creditable routine but not up to he or his wife's satisfaction having been elsewhere with elephant acts here in America that had been highly recognized as excellent. The trainer in the other end ring was fortunate to have Smokey Jones and Vidbel elephants for his act due to some favorite ism and nepotism. And with all of their resources of elephants and trainers the show had to hire a private owned first class elephant act from here in America for the center ring. As of just late the great European trainer Sacha Houcke was able to take all of those elephants and choose a group to do a first rate European style one ring elephant presentation. I am sure he will be missed until and if Joe Frisco can have the opportunity to get it all back together again. It will be a formable difficult task considering all the corporate BS, the politics entailed and the personal agenda of so many people involved. With it and for it might not be enough. But Joe is certainly qualified for the job.

Casey McCoy Cainan said...

Do they use rigging to train elephants over there?