Firma Carl Hagenbeck in Germany

Firma Carl Hagenbeck


Owner 1848-1866: Carl Hagenbeck Sr.
1866-1913: Carl Hagenbeck Jr.
1913-1945: Heinrich Hagenbeck
1913-1956: Lorenz Hagenbeck
First elephant arrived1860
Address St. Pauli
Place Hamburg
Country Germany

Directors-1865: Christiana Anderson (assistant director)
1871-1939: Heinrich Mehrmann (assistant director)
1881-1890: John Hagenbeck (assistant director)
1881-1939: Dietrich Hagenbeck (assistant director)

Key People: Harry Castang (partner)
-1885: Suresh Biswas (animal trainer)
-: Fritz Wegner (agent)
-: Christoph Schulz (agent)
-: Jürgen Johannsen (animal trainer)
-: Hermann Wiele (agent)
-1949: Sol Stephan (agent)
1864-1870: Lorenzo Casanova (partner)
1876-1910: Joseph Menges (partner)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
: George Arstingstall
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers-1918: Matthias Walter
Record history
History of updates2024-03-22

Latest document update2024-03-22 15:06:24
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Firma Carl Hagenbeck, located at St. Pauli, in Hamburg, Germany , was founded in 1848 and the first elephant arrived in 1860.

Comments / picturesCarl Hagenbeck Sr. (1810-1887) was a fishmonger at Grosse Petersenstrasse 16 in St. Pauli, Hamburg, Germany, who started a side business by buying and selling exotic animals, which he put at exhibit at Petersenstrasse and Spielbudenplatz. He had 2 sons and 3 daughters in his first marriage, and after his wife died in 1865, he remarried and had another 2 sons, John and Gustave, in the second.

His oldest son Carl Jr. was born at Lincolnstraße 33 in St. Pauli, and developed the company into a succesful worldvide business, and he pioneered the concept of zoos without bars, primarly in Hagenbecks Tierpark in Hamburg, a zoo which still is private owned by the Hagenbeck family. Carl Hagenbecks brother Wilhelm Hagenbeck was a succesful animal trainer, who founded Circus Wilhelm Hagenbeck and was the first trainer to bring Polar Bears into the circus ring. Carls sister Marie Dorothea Louise Hagenbeck (1848-1886) married the animal dealer Charles Rice in England.

Carls halfbrother, John Hagenbeck, also assisted in the company, and established the Ceylon Zoological Gardens Company at Dehiwela, where he kept animals in transfer, before export to europe, but also exhibited animals in a small zoo, which ws open to the public. During the second world war, Ceylon Zoological Gardens Company was liquidated 1936, and in 1937 renamed to Dehivela Gardens.

In his book Savages and Beasts, Nigel Rothfels quotes Hagenbecks tally of business’s first 20 years. He had sold: at least a thousand lions, three to four hundred tigers, six to seven hundred leopards, a thousand bears of different varieties and around eight hundred hyenas. Some three hundred elephants had passed through his hands. He had sold seventeen rhinoceroses of the three Indian Species and nine of the African, while one hundred and fifty giraffes and six hundred antelopes of diverse Species including the rarest, largest, and most beautiful, had been traded by the company. 

1844: Carl Hagenbeck Jr. (1844-1913) is born.

1848, March: Carl Sr bought six seals from a fisher, and let the public see them for 1 Schilling per person, at Spielbudenplatz, and even took them to Berlin, where after exhibiting them, they were sold.

1852: Carl Sr bought a polar bear, which was exhibited and sold.

1857: Carl went with his father to Vienna, and bought animals from Dr. Natterer, which were sold to menageries and Antwerpen Zoo.

1859: Carl Hagenbeck, completes his school by the age of 15, and takes over the animal trade.

1860: Hagenbeck bought an African elephant (Gröning/Saller), which had problems with a leg, and was sold to Hamburg Natural History Museum, where it was killed and exhibited as texidermy. The company C. Hagenbecks Handlungs-Menagerie St. Pauli is described on posters.

1863: Opened the new C. Hagenbecks Handlungs-Menagerie on 6226 m2 at Spielbudenplatz 19, St. Pauli, Hamburg, which he had bought from the heritage of Gottfried Jamrach, father of animal dealer Charles Jamrach.

1864: Carl Hagenbeck started to cooperate with the Austrian animal dealer Lorenzo Casanova who imported animals, mostly from Sudan in Africa, following an agreement of a fixed price for the animals.

1865: Hagenbeck bought 2 African elephants from Lorenzo Casanova, imported from from Nubia: Jenny, sold to Vienna Zoo, and most possibly Alice sold to London Zoo by Carl Hagenbecks brother-in-law, animal dealer Charles Rice? (According to Gröning/Saller 3 elephants were imported from Sudan)

1866: Import of 6 Africans from Sudan (Casanova). 3 exported to animal dealer Reiche in USA (among them probably Bismarck and Princess), 4 to animal dealer Charles Rice in United Kingdom. (According to Gröning/Saller 12 African (Sudan) elephants during 1866)

1867: According to Gröning import of 14 elephants from Sudan. Another export of 10-12 Africans to USA. (among them probably Annie who arrived Adam Forepaugh Circus 1867)

1868: Import of a Group of African elephants via Port of Trieste, 3 died during on the train because of bite-wounds from rats.

1870: Carl Hagenbeck had to travel to Suez in Egypt, and take over a shipment of animals, including 5 elephants, from Casanova, who was sick in fever,and died in Alexandria. Hagenbeck brought the animals from Suez to Alexandria, and from there to Port of Trieste, selling some of the elephants on the way to Hamburg; Neptun to Vienna Zoo, unknown to Zoo Dresden, one to Berlin Zoo, and possibly Pluto) (To a Belgian showman, who sold the elephant to Carl Krone?).

Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany Germany
From Hagenbeck, Lorenz, Animals Are My Life: On the picture can be seen among other species; the critically endangered nubian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis), and the tora hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus tora), an extremely endangered antelope, native to Eritrea and Ethiopia. It has possibly been extirpated from Sudan. One of the most critically endangered large mammals in the world. The book picture caption in German: Tiertransport aus dem Sudan im Tierpark am neuen Pferdemarkt 1870. Nach der Natur gezeichnet von H. Leutemann

Casanovas death ended their partnership, and after this Carl Hagenbeck started to organize his Africa imports from Sudan himself.

Carl Hagenbeck was married 1871 with Amanda Mehrmann (1849-1939), sister to his old friend Heinrich Mehrmann. Of his ten children, only five survived until his death, and 13 grandchildren.

1871: William Jamrach returned from India with elephants and other animals, which was bought by Carl Hagenbeck.

1866-1872: Hagenbeck sold 61 elephants.

1872: During tour in Europe, P. T. Barnum visited C. Hagenbecks Handlungs-Menagerie in Hamburg, and bought animals for £3 000. According to Hagenbeck, Barnum would after this only buy elephants from Hagenbecks, an agreement which was followed after his death by James A. Bailey.

1873: Carls younger brother Dietrich died in black fever 1873 while searching for hippos in Zanzibar.

1874: In April the family, company and all animals was moved to Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark at Neue Pferdemarkt, Hamburg.

1875: The first Völkerschau toured Germany, and a Group of African elephants were imported. By April 1875 the animals were in Cairo and would soon be shipped to Port of Trieste. Among the elephants in this Group was the male Ali, arriving in Budapest Zoo in early July.

1877: The Nubian Caravan, which also included 5 freshly imported African elephants, was also touring to Paris and London.[7]

1879: Import of African elephants, among them two with unknown names, which was sold to Berlin Zoo. (1 and 2)

1880: Importing elephants for P.T. Barnum (and Adam Forepaugh?). Joseph Menges were send to Ceylon to organize the import.

1881: After the outbreak of the Mahdist War 1881–1899, Sudan could not anymore be used as source country for animals.

1881: The price for an Asian elephant was 10 000 Marks.

1883-02-10: sold 3 small elephants arrived from Hamburg to Barnum, making Barnums Herd of 28.

1883: Imported 67 elephants from Ceylon.(Carl Hagenbeck claimed in a letter to Ringling that he exported abt 100 elephants to USA between 1875 and 1882, most of them to Forepaugh and P. T. Barnum) .

1883: Imported 25 elephants from Ceylon, via Port of Trieste, for the Ceylon-Karawane.

1883-1884: Carl Hagenbecks Ceylonkarawane.

One of the largest of all my ethnographic exhibitions was the great Cingalese exhibition of 1884. This great caravan, which consisted of sixty-seven persons with twenty-five elephants and a multitude of cattle of various breeds, caused a great sensation in Europe. I travelled about with this show all over Germany and Austria, and made a very good thing out of it.

1884-November 15: advertising 26 elephants, of which 25 arrived Europe 16 months ago, and have been touring Germany and Austria the last year:
Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany Germany

1885: Import of elephants from Ceylon, by John Hagenbeck.

1866-1886: According to Gröning, during 1866-1886 Hagenbeck imported 300 Asian elephants.

1887: The founder of the company, Gottfried Claus Carl Hagenbeck, dies in Hamburg.

1886-1889: Carl Hagenbeck Circus. (Sold 1889 to Barnum & Baileys Circus in USA)

1888: Import of African elephants from Sudan, among them Mary sold to Berlin Zoo.

After 1889: Founding a new circus Carl Hagenbeck’s Zoologischer Circus.

1893: Hagenbeck brought the Carl Hagenbeck’s Zoologischer Circus to Chicago Worlds Fair, with apr 1000 animals.

1896: C.H. developed the first animal enclosures without bars.

1897: Show at Venedig in Wien in Vienna, Austria, after the show sold elephant Lizzie to Dan Fitzgerald (senior partner in the firm of Fitzgerald Bros.)

1898: From import of India, the 4 elephants Salt, Sauce (later Jumbo), Vinegar and Mustard, were trained by Wilhelm Philadelphia, a number called "The Cruet", which was sold to England in 1902 and later presented as "Lockharts Elephants".

1902: advertising: 12 elephants, including an elephant mother with baby.

Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany GermanyTwo Asian elephant cows with babies, in Stellingen. [2]

1902-1903: Lorenz Hagenbeck went to Sonepur Cattle Fair in India to buy elephants for import to Germany. Over 800 elephants were sold that year of which 20 were sent to Hamburg with the ship "Ehrenfeld", including a large aggressive female bought from Calcutta Zoo. [1]

1902, August 8: 20 young Asian elephants just arrived in Hamburg, from Asia:
Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany Germany

1902, December 17: Elephants arrived Hoboken, New York with ship Patricia, from Hamburg: article mention Willie to Atlanta Zoo (Maude), Sara the tiniest baby in the world, her mother Minade, and other elephants.
Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany Germany

1903 June: Hagenbeck says only 5 African elephants have been imported since 1880, due to the war in Sudan. I have now 14 Indian elephants in depot in Hamburg, and 20 more on the way to Europe:
Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany Germany

1904: Carl Hagenbeck had 43 elephants in Stellingen.

1904: In Lorenz Hagenbeck\' s book he wrote about bringing 36 elephants to the US. 1904: Twenty elephants had been sold to Thompson and Dundee (including Alice (Al, Luna), Barnes Trilby and Princess Alice) and there were also two bachelor elephants which were going to the largest menagerie in the world, that of Luna Park on Coney Island, 8 to Ringling, and 8 to the show at the 1904 STL World\'s Fair (Josky, Moms, Monte, Nancy, Pinto, Topsy, Trilby, +1 more, possibly Baby?). (Source)

1904-1905: Hagenbeck Animal Show at St. Louis Worlds Fair.

Firma <a href='person.php?id=411' title='Carl Hagenbeck'>Carl Hagenbeck</a>
in Germany GermanyMother and baby elephant at St. Louis Worlds Fair, 1904.

1905: Hagenbeck captured a thousand dromedaries for the German Empire to use in Africa.
1906: 2 000 dromedaries delivered to South West Africa for the German Government.

1905-1907: Carl Hagenbecks Wild Animal Circus, USA

1907: Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark in Stellingen, Hamburg. Many Zoos in Europe saw this as a competiton, and after 1907 many Zoos preferred to buy their elephants from Hagenbecks new competitor Firma Ruhe.
In 1907 Hagenbeck also participated with wild animals, including elephants, at Paris Colonial exhibition 1907 in France ("Exposition Coloniale"). The Colonial Exhibition of 1907, organized from May 14, at the Tropical Agronomy Garden of Paris was the fourth colonial exhibition organized in France.

1908: The Paris exhibition was moved to London in United Kingdom, under the name Franco-British Exhibition, held in London between 14 May and 31 October 1908.

1908: Published the book, Beasts and Men.[2]

1908: 13 elephants in Stellingen. [2]

1909-06-21: The first German Ostrich farm was founded, officially opened by the Empress of Germany.

1909-1910: Hagenbeck supervised the building of the Giardino Zoologico in Rome.

1910: Hagenbecks sells a trained Group of three elephants to Ringling:
Records about Firma Carl Hagenbeck from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
In 1910 the Ringlings revived the Forepaugh-Sells Circus and purchased an act from Hagenbeck in Germany that consisted of three young elephants "Nellie", "Jennie" and "Rio" included in the act were several Great Dane dogs.Buckles Woodcocks blog

William "Buckles" Woodcock

1911: Opening of Rome Zoo, the master plan was developed by Carl Hagenbeck and his son Heinrich.

1912: "The Völkerschau Am Nil", with Egyptian culture.

1913: "The Völkerschau Birma", with burmese culture.

1913-04-13: Carl Hagenbeck dies. After his death 1913, most of his business were taken over by his two sons, Heinrich Hagenbeck (1875-1945) and Lorenz Hagenbeck (1882-1956).

1914: Matthias was in the Red Sea on his way home on the s.s. Axenfals when the radio picked up the news of the outbreak of war and this was broadcast from the bridge. Matthias had eleven elephants with him on board. The captain steamed as fast as he could to the as it then was Italian colonial Port of Massawa. From there the elephants were taken to Brindisi on an Italian tramper and thence went to Stellingen by rail.

1916: Carls son Lorenz Hagenbeck (1882-1956), started Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen which saved the company during the wartimes, when animal trade declined, and the zoo was closed. This circus toured all over the world until 1953.

1920: The zoo Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark closed, due to the financial situation.

1921: Four elephants arrived from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baileys circus in USA: Jess, Barnum Queen, Veneda, and Mary.

1922: Jürgen Johannsen, brought the first large contingent of animals in the postwar period of trade from India into the port of Hamburg. Heinrich Hagenbeck was in North America when the Herd of ten young elephants arrived. (Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck)

Same year 1922: The coming of the eight baby elephants to Sells-Floto Circus in Salem, Mass., from the Hagenback zoo.

1924: Hagenbecks Tierpark opened again. (Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck)

1934-12-18: Exported 6 Burmese elephants (2-4-yrs) to Bertram Mills Circus in UK.. They were trained by John Gindl, upon suggestion of Hagenbeck to Mills. 3 sold to Circus Darix Togni in Italy in 1957, and the last 3 later sold to Boswell-Wilkies Circus in South Africa.(Source: Bertram Mills, by David Jamieson, 1998, through Raffael de Ritis, 2012.)

1940: John Hagenbeck died in a prison camp in Colombo in 1940.

1944: Bombing of the Zoo: The worst part of it, however, was the fire, which was now quite beyond control. When the first incendiaries came down on the roof of the elephant house and this burst into flames, our resourceful chief keeper, Fritz Theisinger, quickly loosed his fourteen elephants, which he had kept tethered by only one hind leg, and led them outside. There they could try to avoid the incendiaries which were falling everywhere, and they took refuge in the large pool. Next, aided by the Czech P.O.W.s, he made an attempt to save the house, but at this point the P.O.W.s lost their nerve and ran away. Animals Are My Life, by Lorenz Hagenbeck

1947: Ringling bought 5 elephants from Circus Hagenbeck, and hired Hugo Schmitt as elephant trainer, who stayed on Ringling until 1971.

References for records about Firma Carl Hagenbeck

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Firma Carl Hagenbeck, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

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