Born in 1942 in Breslau, Germany, which is now a part of Poland, Mr. Gautier was descended from six generations of circus performers. His ancestors founded the Didier Gautier circus in France.
The founder of the circus dynasty Gautier, Jean Baptiste Gautier (1758-1823), from Faucon in Avignon, was exhibiting an elephant around Europe as back as 1779, together with his wife Rose Louise de Lefevre and the sons Jean Leonard (Baptiste), Joseph and Didier.
Jean Leonard Gautiers son Jean-Baptiste (1841-1915) had 10 children, and the son Leonard (1866-1955) started circus Leonard Gautier in Denmark 1900. His brother Louis (Lulu, 1887-1949), was rider and animal trainer and came with Hagenbecks Circus to Sweden in 1945, engaged by Trolle Rhodins Zoo Circus. Lulus daughter Ingeborg Gautier (born 1929) married Trolle Rhodin, who also hired Hagenbecks Circus elephants and their trainer Hugo Schmitt in 1945.
Lulus son Axel (-1993), went as assistant to Hugo Schmitt to Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baileys Circus in 1947, when they bought the elephants from Hagenbecks Circus. Axel Gautier remained with the Ringling show to replace Hugo Schmitt in 1970, and was in charge of the Blue Unit's elephant herd through 1989.
In 1993 Axel Gautier was killed by Reeba at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus elephant retirement facility in Williston, Florida, he was taken by helicopter to the hospital, and he died in Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He was 51.
May 5, 1993: Axel Gautier, one of the best-known elephant trainers in the world, was crushed to death when an elephant stepped on him at the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey elephant farm in Gainesville, Florida. Gautier was standing with three elephants in a corral when a 24-year-old female Asian elephant suddenly knocked him down and stepped on him. The circus veterinarian was standing nearby.
Children with Donna (seventh generation of circus Gautiers)
- Michael Gautier, born 1964
- Kevin Gautier, born 1969