Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic

Circus Kludsky
Circus Kludsky at Jesuitenwiese, Prater, Vienna, in 1900. Photo: R. Bartsch.
Circus Kludsky at Jesuitenwiese, Prater, Vienna, in 1900. Photo: R. Bartsch.
Local nameCirkusu Kludských
Owner?-1895: Antonín Kludský (1826-1895)
1895-1934: Karel Kludsky senior (1864-1927)
First elephant arrived1902
Last elephant left1934
Closed down1934
AddressVilla Kludsky
CountryCzech Republic

Directors?-1895: Antonín Kludský (1826-1895)
1895-1934: Karel Kludsky senior (1864-1927)
Relevant literature

At most Circus Kludsky had over 700 animals and are said to have displayed the largest number of animals in the world on any circus, before the first world war.

Founder was Antonín Kludský (1826-1895) who also started the zoo at Brno, CZ, as a winterquarters for circus animals. Antonín Kludský had 21 sons! The oldest son Anton, was killed by a lion, and so the second son Karel Kludsky senior (1864-1927) took over the circus. He was married to Theresia Kneisel (1869-1930).

Karl Karel Rudolph Theresia Kludsky

Zirkus KludskyIn 1902, Karel Kludsky senior acquired the cavalry of the Wulff Circus and created a large circus-hippodrome to which it annexed his menagerie.

Karel Kludsky senior had three sons, Karel jr (Charles, born 1891 in Temesvar in Romania, dead 1967), Henry and Rudolph (born 1893 in Judenburg, dead 1960).

EM cow Nelly was the first elephant by circus Kludsky.

Nelly was with the circus at least since 1902. She died 1905 when somebody poisoned her by arsenic.

1905: EM cow Mutti was bought from Hagenbeck/Hamburg in 1905. She died ca 1915-1916 of hunger. She is mentioned as old docile cow.

1906: EM bull Baby was bought from dutch Circus Carré in 1906. He was around 20 years old and before he came to Europe, he lived in american circuses. He died 1932 due to illness.

Charles Kludsky with an Asian elephant bull.

1907: Kludsky bought additional 3 elephants. No names or sex, but most probably EM cows.
1914: Alltogether 7 elephants lived by Kludsky. The Kludsky Circus travelled in particular to Austria-Hungary and Italy about 1914.
1915-1916: All elephants but Baby died 1915-1916 due to shortage of food during WW1. From 400 animals on the circus, only 17 survived.
1920: After the First World War, the Kludsky Circus installed its winter quarters in Obere Zeche, Görkau (present Jirov) in 1920.
Villa Kludsky
Villa Kludsky in Görkau (present Jirov).
1923: 8 asian elephants were bought from the british animal dealer Chapman. One male fell off the train and died on the way from trader. 8 indian mahouts came with the elephants and stayed with the circus.
1924: A posters stated that Kludsky had 19 asian elephants, and the only existing african elephant in europe. The circus had 86 wagons, three rings, 125 horses, and 10 000 seats.

The elephant with large ears and a tusk is an african elephant.

The elephants coming out from stables at the winter quarters.

1925: Kludsky presented to Vienna, under a capital of 10.000 places, a total of 42 numbers of circus on 3 tracks and 2 scenes.
1926: in Turin during a spring carneval, 10 elephants (Baby/bull, Sumatra/cow, Jumbo/bull, Butan/bull, Bombaj, Kalkuta + 4) were scared by petards and ran through the streets of Turin. At least 100 people had broken legs/arms.
1927: Karel senior died in his home in Görkau (present Jirkov)
1928: the circus had 20 elephants.
1929: 24 elephants were trained to make a pyramid. Biggest at that time was Baby, smallest Vejvrtka (male?) with 70cm.
1929: Bubi killed Johann, an elephant guard. Johann was drunken and made a bet the he would bring Bubi to the pub. He was found dead in the morning in the straw in Bubi stable, and Bubi had blood on his tusks.
1930s: In the early thirties, the circus had 24 elephants, six bulls and 18 cows.

But the circus became heavily taxed, and the costs of keeping such a large show and so many animals, created economy problems, in the communistic Bohemia.

1930: Jumbo, asian bull was poisoned, and Buby (Bubi) died in illness. (=22 elephants?)
1932: Baby, asoan bull died in disease. (=21 elephants?)

1934: Circus Kludsky bankrupted. Circus Kludsky officially ended 22nd of Februari 1934, and all animals were sold to Firma Ruhe in Alfeld.
1934: The four french brothers Amar bought 16 of the (24?) elephants to Circus Amar from Firma Ruhe, four bulls (Piccolo, Borneo, Charly, +1) and 12 cows. The bulls Alfeld, Bhutan and Bosco were bought by Circus Barlay. Elephant keeper for many years was Jose Smaha, who went to Firma Ruhe, and Erwin Bauer who went to Circus Barlay.

The Circus Amar elephants with Joseph Haak. At least two bulls with tusks can be seen in the middle.

Thanks to Mr Adrian who gave me informations from Gustave Soury who always took notes of the animals in the circus and zoo he attended, I have got the complete list of the herd bought by Amar. The bulls were: Charley, Piccolo, Bosco and Borneo. The cows: Sumatra, Baby, Poutchy, Burma I et II , Ceylon, Java, Venus, Diana, Bombay, Mouly and Mary
Christian Hamel, France, 2010

After WWII Karel Kludsky tried to reestablish his Circus. When asking for support in Prague (who taxed him heavily earlier) he was offered to work in Prague Zoo. He refused and went back to his home in Jirow, but his house was confiscated and served as barracks for the army. Kludsky and his wife moved to a house in the village Vina?ice, but he prefered to live in the caravan in the garden, and dream of his memories, from one of the largest circuses ever. Kludsky has mentioned that he trained 45 elephants during his life.

Karel Kludsky jr died 29th of November 1967, and his wife seven years later.

George Kludsky, from the later generations, married Yvonne Kruse, daughter of the swedish elephant trainer Gösta Kruse and Joan Fowles who presented "Joans Teddy Bears" on Bertram Mills Circus at much the same time as Gosta showed the elephants. George and Yvonne Kludsky and their son Martyn Kludsky is still working the elephant Dumba in Europe, among other places at Cirque Stéphane Zavatta in France.

Another relative in Prague, Bohumil Kludský is registered owner of the Circus Kludsky trademark.

Source and citings for the article Circus Kludsky

Reference list

Circus Kludsky, Elephant Encyclopedia, Koehl, D. (2020), (available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

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