THE GREATEST ANIMAL TRAINER IN THE WORLD. HALF-HOURS WITH HAGENBECK, NOW AT THE WORLD'S FAIR (1893)
THE GREATEST ANIMAL TRAINER IN THE WORLD. HALF-HOURS WITH HAGENBECK, NOW AT THE WORLD'S FAIR.
The Westminster Budget. 26th May, 1893, pages 20 - 21.
I propose, in a few short articles, to tell my readers something about the greatest animal trainer in the world. His name is Karl Hagenbeck, he lives in Hamburg, and he will appear at the World’s Fair at Chicago with the most wonderful show that has ever been seen on earth. To hear, therefore, how he captures his wild animals, how he transports them, how he trains them, and the adventures and escapes he has undergone in dealing with them, cannot fail to be of interest. Not long ago, I found myself in his menagerie at Hamburg. Very suddenly, and almost unexpectedly, on opening a door I stood within a great shed full of wild beasts, enraged and excited at my unexpected appearance, howling and roaring around me; for visitors, except those on business, are never allowed within those notable precincts. I stood a moment dazed and awestruck at the sight that presented itself to my gaze, until I was recalled to myself by the sudden laying hold of the flaps of my cloak by the great unsheathed claws of a Nubian lion. I leaped forward, and the beast retired, growling, to the gloomy recesses of its cape. At that moment Mr. Karl Hagenbeck came forward and gave me a hearty welcome, coupled with a word of warning not to go too near the cages. Mr. Hagenbeck is a tall, singularly pleasant-looking man, with keen, kind eyes, and a firm, decisive manner. He took me into his office, and we sat down, whilst he told me something of the curious and interesting life which he has led for so many years.
“My father,” said he, “started in life as a fish dealer in this town, and never dreamed that he would one day be the founder of the greatest menagerie in the world. But it chanced that in the year 1848 some fishermen who usually traded with him brought him some very fine seals which they had caught in their sturgeon nets. They were very fine animals, and he was delighted with them. He therefore made a tour to Berlin, opened a small exhibition in Krolls Gardens, and showed the seals for money. Then there came a revolution in the city; business was at a standstill, so he disposed of the seals for a small sum of money, and returned to his fish dealer’s shop in Hamburg. But he was bitten with the wild beast fever; live animals had more attractions for him than dead fish, and so he told the fishermen that he would always be ready to buy any wild animals they might choose to bring him. A short time after that a sailor from a whaling vessel brought him a polar bear; this he exhibited here in Hamburg. It was a great novelty, and the people flocked in crowds to see it. From that time forward sailors from all parts of the world would bring him animals for sale - monkeys, parrots, deer, snakes, and so on; once a young lion. And so gradually he got together quite a small menagerie. But I am bound to say that at first there was not much profit in it. When I left school m 1859, at the age of fifteen, he asked me whether I would be a fish dealer or a wild beast collector. I chose the wild beasts. So he gave me a hundred and fifty pounds, which I was to spend as best I could in buying animals. Fortune favoured me. I made some capital bargains, I increased the business a hundredfold, and in 1866 he handed the whole business over to me.”
At this moment my eye fell upon a large photograph of the celebrated Mr. T. P. Barnum, which hung upon the wall. Mr. Hagenbeck, noting the direction of my gaze, said to me -
“I suppose you know who that is?”
I replied, “Why, it’s T. P. Barnum.”
“Exactly,” said he. “l was walking about the menagerie one day in 1872 when Mr. Barnum was announced. He said, ‘I’ve just come to have a look round. I’ve got an hour or two to spare, and I thought I might as well spend it here as anywhere else.’
“Well, sir,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, smiling at the recollection of his first momentous interview with the Great Showman, “he stayed fourteen days, and he filled two big notebooks before he left me. He was delighted with all he saw, and still more so with all I told him. I told him all about ostrich riding, and I suggested to him that it would be a splendid thing if he got up a regular wild beast hunt in his hippodrome. He was immensely taken with the idea. He begged me to join him as partner, but this I was not able to do, although for many years I supplied him with his wild beasts”
“Why,” I said, “Mr. Hagenbeck, that opens up quite a new field of labour.”
“Exactly,” he replied, “but that is one of the most important parts of my business. I undertake the establishment of menageries all over the world. I supply people with their buildings, with their animals, with their keepers, with their trainers. Take, for instance, the Zoological Gardens at Cincinnati. I filled them from top to bottom. I recently made one in Rio Janeiro.”
“And can you-tell me anything about the prices of wild animals, Mr. Hagenbeck?” said I.
“Well,” he replied, “prices differ so much from time to time, according to the fashion in wild animals, for I can assure you that there is as much fashion in wild animals as there is in ladies’ dresses. Prices are always rising and falling, according as the animals come into the market, and especially according to the variety. I can remember that once I sold in one day a cargo of African beasts for £6,000. A full-grown hippopotamus is now worth £1,000. A two-horned rhinoceros, which was worth £600 in 1883, cannot now be obtained at any price. An Indian tapir costs £500, an American tapir £150. Elephants vary according to size and training from £250 to £500. A good forest-bred lion, full grown, will fetch from £150 to £200, according to species. Tigers run from £100 to £150, according to their variety.
“Do you know,” he continued, “that there are five different varieties of Royal tigers? and besides them there are the tigers which come from Java, Sumatra, Penang, and even from the bitter cold and dreary wastes of Siberia. Snakes are very much down in the market at present. Those which formerly fetched £5 or £10 you can now get for two pounds. Very large ones sometimes run up to £50. Leopards £30, black panthers £40 to £60, striped and spotted panthers £25. Jaguars run from £30 to £100. A good Polar bear will fetch from £30 to £40. Brown bears from £6 to £10. Black American bears from £10 to £20. A sloth from Thibet £25 to £30. Monkeys run from six shillings apiece. They are most expensive in the spring, when they will sometimes fetch as much as £1 6s. Giraffes are altogether out of the market,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, with a sigh, “for there are none now to be obtained. I have sold one as low as £60, whilst the last one which I sold four years ago to the Brazils I was paid upwards of £1,100 for.”
“And what animals are you going to take to Chicago?” said I.
“Ah,” he replied, “I shall have a magnificent show there. All the animals are perfectly trained. There will be nine lions, five tigers, two panthers, three leopards, several bears, boar hounds, ponies, bulls, sheep. These will all be mixed up together in small and large groups, and they will create a sensation. I venture to say that not even in America have lions and sheep been seen playing together before. I shall show full-grown lions riding on horseback. A man will drive a chariot round the arena drawn by three lions. A splendid Nubian lion will follow him, seated in a chariot drawn by two tigers; and a tiger will ride a bicycle round the hippodrome every day. 93,000 paying visitors passed through my show in Berlin a year or two ago in one single day, and we shall be able to pass in 50,000 people to see my show in America, and we shall take twenty-four days to get to Chicago. I have hired a ship specially to take us over to Chicago. My parrot show alone will astonish the Americans, for I am taking over no less than 102 different species. Before you leave Hamburg I will arrange to have a grand entertainment and exhibition for your own special benefit. In the meantime you, might just have a look round at some of the animals. Here,” said he, as we stood before a cage of very charming monkeys, “are some very clever little animals. They can ride horses in a circus just as well as a man can, they jump through hoops, and they are trained exactly like human beings - in fact, they can do almost everything but talk. I have just sent some people to Abyssinia to fetch me some big silver-grey lion monkeys, sometimes called hamadryads. I said Just now,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, with a laugh, “that monkeys can’t talk; but though I don’t believe in Professor Garner a bit, yet you give me any monkey you like a name, and I’ll guarantee I'll make it talk; but you can only do it by imitating them closely. Take, for instance, that chimpanzee over there,” continued the clever trainer, pointing to a little animal fast asleep on a cross-bar. “Now listen,” he went on, making a peculiar noise with his lips. At once the animal woke up, jabbered a reply in Chimpanzee, flew to the bars of the cage, put his tiny paw out ready for the nuts which he knew were sure to be forthcoming as indeed they were. “There,” said Mr. Hagenbeck, “don’t tell me that monkeys can’t talk, and the different species have different voices and languages exactly as human beings have.”
A little further on we came across a tiny baby elephant 2 ft. 9 in. in height. It was as black as a coal, and had just arrived from Singapore. It was very playful, but when I began pushing it about, as one might roll a big beer barrel, it indulged in a fretful growling, which much amused us. Seven beautiful elephants stood in one big stable together, and as I admired their huge proportions and wondered at their entire gentleness, I said to Mr. Hagenbeck –
“Is it true, as our great English circus proprietor George Sanger told me last summer, that the Asiatic elephant is far more intelligent than its African brother?”
“Certainly not,” replied Mr. Hagen- beck; “the African elephants are just as clever, just as gentle, just as intelligent as the Asiatic elephants. There’s no difference between them, and I ought to know, for I have had to do with them for thirty years, and I have imported as many as seventy-six in one year.”
In my next article I will tell my readers how wild beasts are captured, and how Karl Hagenbeck sends out hunting parties all over the world for their capture.
THE GREATEST ANIMAL TRAINER IN THE WORLD. HALF-HOURS WITH HAGENBECK, NOW AT THE WORLD'S FAIR.
The Westminster Budget. 9th June, 1893, pages 20 - 21.
Karl Hagenbeck and I stood in his beautiful gardens by the enclosure in which the lions and tigers spend the long hot summer days that are so frequent in the port of Hamburg. Most cleverly and most artistically this enclosure has been made to resemble an African desert. In the foreground there are planted here and there bushes and a few small palm-trees, whilst in the far-off distance there rise, towering to a deep blue tropical sky, grim, hoary mountains and sun-stricken rocks. There is thus conveyed to the mind an exact impression of the great Nubian deserts, an impression the force and reality of which is greatly strengthened by the actual appearance of the wild beasts themselves, which are lying basking in the heat of the sun, or restlessly prowling and growling round the enclosure.
“I should very much like to hear, Mr. Hagenbeck,” said I, “everything you can tell me of the way in which your wild beasts are captured.”
“Well,” he replied, “I will tell you as much as I can. Let us begin with the animals which are caught in the deserts of Nubia, for I have, as I have told you, hunting parties all over the world. I send out a special messenger, who goes provided with a lot of silver coin, which in the old days before the war used generally to be Maria Theresa thalers. The people there know my courier, who goes on ahead of this special messenger. As soon as the courier reaches Suakim it is announced that my messenger is coming, and a great fete is then proclaimed. Guns are fired off, tom-toms are beaten, and for at least two days before he arrives there are the greatest possible rejoicings. Then the people go out to meet him, and conduct him with great state to a certain place on the borders of the desert where they have built a zereba. My messenger then gives money in advance to the hunters, who go into Abyssinia to buy horses for the great hunt. Then, all being ready, and the whole party being collected together, they proceed to business. They are armed with assegais and hunting swords; these are long swords like the old German swords. They are as broad as your hand. They are sharp at both ends, and they are two-handled. The men hunt up the animals with quick horses. The large animals, such as elephants and rhinoceroses with babies, are made useless. Then the hunters, forming a circle, follow the animals. Having caught a rhinoceros with its child, a man jumps down from his horse and cuts the poor beast in a vein, whilst some of the other men chase another animal that may be in front to distract the attention. Then the black fellow lets go the rhinoceros upon which he has been operating, catches the little one, ties its legs, and after it has calmed down he brings it to my collector, who is waiting for him in the zereba. The old one is killed and eaten, having been previously skinned, because the natives consider that the hide makes the best shields. Elephants and giraffes are hunted in exactly the same manner. I have been describing to you chiefly the old method of hunting animals in Nubia. Of late years they have usually used guns. The young animals are always brought up with goats’ milk.”
Just at this moment we were passing a large cage full of the finest lions I had ever seen. As soon as they caught sight of Mr. Hagenbeck they began to purr loudly, and came up to the bars of the cage at the sound of his voice to be stroked and petted.
“There,” said my host, “these are some very beautiful lions which I have had from Nubia. You can see that they are in perfect condition, and this is chiefly owing to the fact that they are being specially trained for their performances. There is nothing that keeps them in good health so much as the constant exercise which is required, which I think,” added Mr. Hagenbeck with a laugh, “is a very good argument in favour of the training of wild beasts, and goes a long way to prove that there really is very little, if any cruelty in it. Now I’ll tell you how lions are usually caught in the Nubian desert. The Kauri negroes, when my messenger arrives, form themselves into parties, and go in search of the young lions. As soon as they discover the spoor of a lioness they creep about the bush until they find the animal’s nest. It is usually one man alone who does this, and he has nothing but a bundle of assegais under his left arm. Before the lioness can jump upon him she has these spears in her body. Look at this skin,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, as he took me into the house and showed me a magnificent tawny skin which was hanging up in the hall, and which was punctured with holes.
“There,” said he, “that skin has no less than twenty-four holes in it. The poor mother made a brave fight for her young ones. Well,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, “when the old lioness is killed he takes the young ones to the zereba, where they are given in charge of the servants to bring up with goats’ milk; the little lions are suckled by the goats three times a day, and get quite fond of their foster mothers. Leopards and hyenas are caught in Nubia in regular traps, which are made out of wood or cut out of stone in the mountains. These traps are then baited with meat, and when the animal comes along and pulls at the meat, the door claps down, and they are caught just like a mouse in a trap. Parties of men then go out, the animal is then bound by its legs and borne off in triumph to the zereba.”
“And how are the Asiatic animals caught?” I asked Mr. Hagenbeck.
“Well,” he replied, “very much the same method is pursued there that we adopt in Africa. For instance, in Borneo and Java, animals are caught in trap-falls and pit-falls, and some in huge mouse-traps. In these mouse-traps we often catch full-grown tigers, black panthers, and leopards. In the pit-falls we find two- horned rhinoceroses and saddle-backed tapirs. The animals running through the forest run over these pit- falls and drop in. The greater part of these animals unfortunately die directly they are caught; some kill themselves in their excitement, others won’t feed, and so pine away. A rhinoceros or a tapir dies because it is often hurt internally, although we frequently do not discover that they have been hurt until they have been with us for one or two months. I can remember that I once imported seven big rhinoceroses, and I only sold one of them, as the other six died. Bengal tigers are caught quite young, as the old ones are killed and the young ones are brought up by the natives in much the same way as the young lions in Africa, on milk and fowls. Most of these come by way of Calcutta.”
As we stood in front of a great glass cage full of snakes, I said to Mr. Hagenbeck, “Now, how do you manage to get hold of these beasts, they must be very dangerous, surely?”
“Ah,” he replied, with a thoughtful look, “I’ll tell you later on one or two stories of dreadful adventures that myself have had with snakes. In the meantime, will tell you how they are captured in the Indian jungles. In the dry season the jungle is set on fire. The snakes, which then fly in all directions, are caught by the natives in long catchers. These catchers are sticks with a hoop at the end, to which is attached a big bag, so that it looks very like a large butterfly net. After that the reptiles are packed in sacks made out of matting. These sacks are fastened on to long bamboos, and natives march down to Calcutta with the snakes. When Calcutta is reached, they are packed into big boxes, from twelve to sixteen in a box - that is, when they are only eight or ten feet long; big snakes, from fourteen to sixteen feet in length, are only packed from two to three in a box. They are then sent direct to Europe without any food or water on the journey, for they don’t require either. The principal thing is to keep them perfectly warm, for cold gives them mouth diseases which causes certain death. I can remember once,” continued Mr. Hagenbeck, “that I had 162 snakes reach London in perfect condition; a violent snowstorm then came on, and when the boxes were opened in Hamburg every single snake was dead. And, as they cost me ten pounds apiece, you may imagine that I lost a very considerable sum by that transaction. The majority of my Asiatic elephants come from Ceylon, although a few of them are exported from Burmah. I remember one year there was a great demand in the American market for Asiatic elephants. Barnum and Forepaugh wanted twelve each, I couldn’t get enough from Burmah, so I sent direct to Ceylon, and I got no less than sixty-seven elephants in one year, all of which I disposed of in the next twelve months. Most of these were caught by noosing. This is done by Afghans, who take out a licence from the Ceylon Government specially for the purpose of catching elephants. Parties of men go out with dogs. They find a herd; they follow it up; they drive the elephants into different flights; they then give their attention to the younger elephants. Each man has a long rope made out of bullock’s hide, at the end of which there is a noose. He then chases the elephant, throws the noose round its hind legs, and then follows it up until a tree is reached, round which the line is fastened. The elephants drop down, the rope is fastened round their other legs, and they are left for several days until they are calmed down; they are then taken and easily tamed.
“I can well remember,” said Mr. Hagenbeck, “how interested Prince Bismarck was when I told all about the capture of my elephants. I was sitting in my room one day, when a servant came in and told me he believed that Prince Bismarck was in the menagerie. I went out immediately, and, as soon as I saw his tall, erect figure and white moustache, I knew it was the great man himself. I never came across so intelligent a man, or one who asked so many questions. I should think he must be something like your Gladstone.”
“And how did you first start buying animals on such a big scale, Mr. Hagenbeck?” said I.
“Well,” he replied, “it was in this way. In 1863 the first big lot of animals that ever appeared in Europe at one time were brought over by an Italian named Casanova. He couldn’t sell them, and we had not the money to buy them, so the lot was sold to a menagerie at Kreutzburg, which was then the biggest in Germany. Next year Casanova came over with a few from Egypt. It was a small lot, and I bought the whole of it for the Dresden Zoo. This was the beginning of the African business. I then gave Casanova a big order, and arranged that he should bring over elephants, giraffes, and young lions, at a fixed price. It’s always cheaper,” added Mr. Hagenbeck, with a laugh, “to get your dinner at the fable table d’hote than by the card, and thought it would be cheaper and better to get all these animals in one lot. Well, in 1866, he returned with a large cargo, in which there were seven African elephants. At that time an African elephant was a great novelty, both in Europe and America. I sold these elephants to America, where they excited great interest, as they were the first African elephants that had ever been seen in that country.”
As we were going back to Mr. Hagenbeck’s office he pointed out to me some very beautiful Zebu bulls which he was going to send out to South America to be used for agricultural and breeding purposes.
“There,” said he, “you can see those animals nowhere else in Europe except in my place. I got them from Central India; I have been after them for ten years, and I only succeeded in getting them two years ago.”
Just at that moment we passed a slaughter yard, in which a couple of horses were being cut up for the carnivorous animals.
“It must be a very difficult matter,” said I, “to know how to feed all these animals properly.”
“I should think it was,” he replied. “Animals are most dainty and delicate as regards their food. A number of young animals were seized with what appeared to be the cholera, and I lost three thousand pounds’ worth of them in three weeks. It is a very anxious business indeed, I can tell you.”
In my next article I will tell my readers how Karl Hagenbeck transports his animals across the desert and across the sea.
THE GREATEST ANIMAL TRAINER IN THE WORLD. HALF-HOURS WITH HAGENBECK, NOW AT THE WORLD'S FAIR.
The Westminster Budget. 23rd June, 1893, pages 20 - 21.
It is told of the mad King of Bavaria that he used frequently to command great theatrical entertainments, at which he himself was the only spectator. A similar experience befell myself when I was visiting Hamburg, for Mr. Karl Hagenbeck, at my special request, and with great good nature, gave two full performances in my honour, at which, like the mad Bavarian monarch, I was the only spectator. In the first performance only very young animals took part, but as they had been working since January last year they were pretty well up to all the little tricks they had been taught. My readers will Imagine a great circle carefully railed off from the outside world by iron bars. Round this circle, upon a number of little stands, sat the performing animals, waiting to take their respective “turns,” as they say in the music- halls; in the midst of the circle sat myself with a beautiful little baby lion on my knee, which amused itself by playing with my watch chain and handkerchief. Two little tigers which got tired of sitting still suddenly jumped down from their perches, and ran up to play with me and the baby lion. A young lion on another perch yawned so loud that we all, animals and men, looked up to see what was the matter. Mr. Hagenbeck walked round the circle stroking the animals, most of which affectionately kissed him as he passed. At this moment Mr. Mellermann, who is one of the finest wild beast trainers in the world, entered the circle with his whip in his hand, which as he entered he cracked smartly, causing the animals to spring sharply to attention upon their little seats. Karl Hagenbeck introduced me to Mr. Mellermann, who is, indeed, his own brother-in-law as well as being his trainer.
[Note: it should be “Mehrmann”]
“What is your rule of training, Mr. Mellermann?” said I.
“Kindness and coolness and firmness,” he replied, “as you will see in this performance. Come on, pussies,” he continued; “show this gentleman how you can run round the circle.” The pussies, as he called them - fairly big tigers I should have considered them - unwillingly crept off their seats, growling not a little. Mr. Mellermann cracked his whip smartly, but did not hit them. The animals then began to run very prettily round and round the circle. So well did they do their little tricks that Mr. Mellermann said, “Now you shall have some sugar, you have been very good.” He placed in my hands a few lumps of sugar, which I myself gave to them, greatly to their pleasure. Then a pyramid was formed by some young tigers, some lions, a couple of ponies, and four young goats. The pyramid itself consisted of a small double ladder, upon the steps of which the animals somewhat nervously took their places, and upon which they stood gazing quietly down upon us, until they were told that they might go to their places. After a while, when school was over, the goats and ponies left the arena, and then the door of a big cage, which gave upon the circle, was thrown wide open. It was pretty to see the little lions and tigers running home after school, for all the world like an infant school dismissed to play. The pretty creatures gambolled about for a short while in their cage, and then lay down to rest.
“And now,” said Mr. Hagenbeck, “the older animals are coming in to do their performance.”
Several attendants entered the building as he spoke; for to handle a large number of fully-grown wild animals is no light matter. The first animals to come rushing into the arena were a number of huge German boarhounds - great affectionate beasts they were, too. As I patted one of them as it passed me he reared himself on his hind legs, threw his fore paws round my neck, and delightedly covered my face with kisses. Each boarhound in entering the circle went to his own allotted place with all the sense of a human being. A few moments afterwards a door was thrown open, and in walked the lions and tigers. Splendid big beasts these last were. Some looked very good-tempered, although it is to be acknowledged that one tiger had evidently got out of bed the wrong side, whilst a lion that had arrived comparatively recently from Nubia evinced now and again a strong disposition to rebel against the novel circumstances in which he found himself placed. Three bears then walked in - a polar bear, a sloth bear, and a black bear, the latter causing much amusement by quietly entering on its hind legs. Then came a couple of elephants, a camel, four ponies, several goats, and, last of all, a big sleepy sheep, which seemed to be on particularly intimate terms with one of the lions, thereby anticipating the Scriptural millennium, and literally fulfilling the words of the Bible in which we are told that so great a peace shall descend upon the world that not only will the antagonism between man and the brute creation have come to an end for ever, but even animals shall be reconciled one with another, and the lamb and the lion shall lie down together in one fold. It has to be acknowledged that they have done this frequently enough before, but with this difference, that the lamb has always been inside the lion.
One of the most remarkable things that I noticed in Karl Hagenbeck’s menagerie is the marvellous unity and loving kindness which is brought to pass amongst his animals. They are fondling and playing with each other the whole day long. Like the younger animals, they took their seats upon the ricketty pedestals which are provided for them. It was a wonder to me how such huge beasts were able to balance themselves so easily and comfortably as they did upon such small and slender supports. One of them, however, came to grief in a most amusing manner. The human beings were standing talking together in the middle of the circle, when suddenly a loud crash and an indignant howl was heard. We all turned to look what was the matter, as did also the wild beasts themselves; one of the lions had suddenly tumbled down off his perch, or rather the perch had fallen with him, and there he lay, more startled than hurt, wondering what on earth had happened. It was partly his own fault, poor dear fellow, for he had fallen asleep whilst waiting for the performance to begin, and so lost his balance. But his look of indignant surprise was so ludicrously human that none of us could help laughing. However, both he and his pedestal were speedily reinstated in their former position, and a lump of sugar soon restored him to his usual tranquillity of spirit,
“And will the animals be arranged round the Chicago circus hike this, Mr. Hagenbeck?” said I.
“Everything will be exactly as you see it to-day,” he replied; “perhaps, if anything, on a bigger scale.”
At this moment the band struck up a stirring tune, on hearing which the animals delightedly pricked their ears, and all became life and animation at once.
“My animals love music,” said Mr. Hagenbeck, “and they perform twice as well with a band as they do without.”
The first thing that took place was the riding round the circus on a pony by a full-grown lion. Round and round they went - the pony spiritedly enough; the lion, it must be confessed, looking, as wild beasts generally do when engaged in such performances, rather a fool.
“The ponies and dogs were at first dreadfully afraid of the lions and tigers,” explained Mr. Hagenbeck, “but they soon got over it. These two animals were the rage of all Paris when I was performing there a year or two ago. Four ponies refused altogether, but at last we managed to persuade this one to accomplish the trick.”
“Has your brother-in-law never been hurt by any of these animals?”
“Only once,” said he, “when he tried to separate a dog and a tiger which were fighting, and the dog bit him. The dogs are frequently very plucky, and sometimes attack the lions.”
The next feature in the programme was that a tiger should ride round the circus on a tricycle. A man rolled in the tricycle, the tiger. was called by name to come down from his perch, which he did slowly and unwillingly enough, “for,” said Mr. Hagenbeck, “he always hates this ride of his.” Then the tiger sullenly mounted the tricycle exactly as is shown in the picture, growling frequently the whole time. The band struck up a slow tune, the tiger set the tricycle in motion, and slowly and solemnly passed round the circus.
“Now,” said the chief trainer, “I’ll show you how a tiger can roll a ball along, standing upon it the whole time.” Some trestles were brought in, placed at equal distances from each other, and a long plank was laid across them, and then there was placed upon it a huge wooden ball. “Come on, Caesar,” cried Mr. Mellermann. “It’s your turn now.” To our surprise a beautiful lion jumped down from his pedestal and ran gaily up to Mr. Mellermann. “No, no, no, you dear old stupid,” said the trainer, leading him back to his perch; “I want Caesar, not you.” But all persuasion couldn’t get Caesar, the tiger, to come down, so Mr. Mellermann went boldly up to him and gently flicked him with his whip. Caesar got slowly down, snarling and growling the whole time. “Come on, then, there’s a good fellow,” said Mr. Mellermann, and after a while Caesar was persuaded to balance himself on the ball, which he rolled slowly along the plank. Having done it once or twice forward and backwards, he was allowed to return to his seat, which he did with great joy and satisfaction. Mr. Mellermann then went up to him, told him he had been a good fellow, and gave him a special bit of meat all to himself. “I always do that,” said he, coming back to where I was standing, “when an animal has shown any unwillingness to perform his tricks, for there is nothing that encourages them like kindness.”
“Which animals show the most intelligence?” said I.
“Well,” replied Mr. Mellermann, “I don’t think there is much difference between them; lions and tigers, males and females, are equally clever, and,” continued Mr. Mellermann, “I think it is all rubbish to say that tigers are not so affectionate or so easily tamed as lions. Why, look here,” he continued, going up to a splendid Royal Bengal tiger which greeted him with a most extravagant affection as he threw his arms round his neck and drew his head down on a level with his own, “you couldn’t get a more affectionate beast than this is, I am sure.”
On this particular morning the animals seemed to be a little flighty, which Karl Hagenbeck explained to me was owing to the fact that the young animals were so close by, and the old ones wanted to play with them. Next, one of the bears was led forth to walk on the tight rope - the tight rope really being a long, narrow plank. Very cleverly it balanced itself on its hind legs, and walked first forwards and then backwards with wonderful skill and ease. The trainer walked beside him encouraging him now and again with the words, “Steady, John, steady,” treating him, indeed, exactly as he would treat a boy at school. In the middle of his performance a loud snarling and growling was suddenly heard, and, as the leopard had been behaving very badly the whole morning and distracting the attention of the school, he was sent back to his den in disgrace. Meanwhile the bear retired to his pedestal, and sat upon it with a graceful and self-satisfied air.
“That bear very much pleased the Emperor of Austria and the King of Bavaria when they came here some years ago,” said Mr. Hagenbeck; and then he took a beautiful silver cigar-case out of his pocket, from which he offered me a very fine weed, and which cigar-case he told me had been given him on that memorable occasion by the King of Bavaria himself. Then a see-saw was constructed in the middle of the circus, upon one end of which stood a lion, and upon the other end of which stood a tiger. A bear standing in the middle preserved peace between them. Two leopards stood on guard on either side, and then the bear set the see-saw in motion by walking alternately from one side to the other. Then took place a curious and amusing performance: four lions and tigers were arranged in a row at an equal distance from one another. Some of the German boarhounds were let loose, and one after another they gaily started a game of leap-frog with the wild beasts, who seemed to enjoy it to the full as much as they did. After they had finished their performance some enormous double ladders were brought in. The great polar bear was persuaded to take his place at the very top; next to him on either side, on the next rung of the ladder, was a beautiful boarhound; then came two Royal Bengal tigers, and then a couple of the finest lions I ever saw. Round about the base of the pyramid were grouped in picturesque profusion lions, tigers, leopards, and dogs. There they stood perfectly still and uttering not a single sound, until, very suddenly, Mr. Mellermann cracked his whip, when the animals joyfully quitted their strained position and retired to their seats.
And now came the piece de resistance of the whole affair. A large Roman chariot was rolled into the circus; two huge tigers were led forth, and, growling much, they were harnessed to it, and then there was ushered into the chariot, with no little state, a noble and stately lion. A robe of Royal crimson was fastened round his neck, a gleaming crown was placed upon his head, the reins were thrown upon his shoulders, two boarhounds took their position as footmen in the rear of the chariot, Mr. Mellermann cracked his whip and the Royal chariot drawn by the tigers rolled solemnly round the circus. After this a curious thing occurred. The entertainment was at an end, the band quitted the building, and the animals were allowed to play about all jumbled up together. They seemed perfectly happy, gambolling with pure pleasure round Mr. Mellermann and his assistants, between whom and the animals the strongest affection most evidently exists. After they had played about for a few minutes the order was given that they should retire to their cells, which they did by devious ways and bypaths, the last glimpse I caught of them being of a tiger playfully sparring with a tawny African lion.