Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic

Circus Kludsky

Local name Cirkusu Kludských

Owner: Antonin Kludsky Sr.
-: Theresia Kneisel
-: Maria Kludsky
1891-1927: Karel Kludsky Sr
1927-1934: Rudolph Kludsky
1927-1934: Karl Kludsky Jr.
First elephant arrived1902
Last elephant left1934
Closed down1934
Address Villa Kludsky
Place Jirkov
Country Czech Republic
Website Website


Key People -: Ricardo Canestrelli (artist)
-: Teresa Fumagalli (artist)
-1936: Bohumil Kludsky (animal trainer)
1931-1932: Genoeffa Lentini Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Gino Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Ricardo Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Ottavio Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Federico Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Ernesta Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Olga Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Giuseppe Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Gilda Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Ugo Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Pietro Canestrelli (artist)
1931-1932: Oreste Canestrelli (artist)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
-1934: Jose Smaha
(elephant trainer)
-1934: Erwin Bauer
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers
Record history
History of updates2023-06-21

Latest document update2023-06-21 16:28:10
Relevant literature
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Circus Kludsky, located at Villa Kludsky, in Jirkov, Czech Republic , was founded in 1902 and the first elephant arrived in 1902. The last elephant left in 1934. Circus Kludsky closed down in 1934.

Comments / picturesAt most Circus Kludsky had 25 elephants and over 700 animals and is said to have displayed the largest number of animals in the world in any circus, before the first world war.

The founder was Antonín Kludský (1826-1895) who also started the zoo at Brno, CZ, as a winter quarters 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). Karel Kludsky Sr. had three sons, Karel Kludsky Jr. (Charles Kludsky, born 1891 in Timisoara (Temesvar) in Romania, dead 1967), Henry Kludsky, and Rudolf Kludsky (born 1893 in Judenburg, dead 1960).

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic

In 1874, Gottlieb Kreutzberg was killed by his tigers, and the famous Kreutsberg Menagerie of Leipzig was sold to Antonin Kludsky. The so-formed Kludský menagerie became the Czech Kingdom’s largest (as reflected by contemporary posters).

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+RepublicCircus Kludsky at Jesuitenwiese, Prater, Vienna, in 1900. Photo: R. Bartsch.

1902: Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+RepublicIn 1902, Karel Kludsky senior acquired the cavalry of the Wulff Circus and created a large hippodrome to which it annexed his menagerie. He also purchased the German Circus Enders’s equipment and turned the Kludsky enterprise into a circus.

Enders Circus was for sale in Timisoara, Romania. Famous for the high Spanish school and even more famous for the director\'s daughters, who complimented the horse dressage as acrobats. But the girls got old, and cheated on each other, the horses themselves stopped being interesting and the circus came to the fore. Karel Kludský recognized the chance of a lifetime. He drove to Timisoara and bought the whole circus. Tent, wagons, horses with everything, for half its price.

EM cow Nelly was the first elephant by Circus Kludsky. Nelly was with the circus at least since 1902. She died in 1905 when somebody poisoned her with arsenic.

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

1906: Asian male elephant 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 in 1932 due to illness.

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic

Charles Kludsky with an Asian elephant bull.

1907: Kludsky bought additional 3 elephants. No names or sex, but most probably EM cows.
1914: Altogether 7 elephants lived by Kludsky. The Kludsky Circus traveled in particular to Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1914.
1915-1916: All elephants but Baby died 1915-1916 due to a shortage of food during WW1. Of 400 animals in 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.
Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic
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 the trader. 8 Indian mahouts came with the elephants and stayed with the circus.
1924: A poster 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.

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic

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

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic

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 carnival, 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. The biggest at that time was Baby, the smallest Vejvrtka (male?) with 70cm.

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+RepublicProbably the Asian elephant Baby.

1929: Bubi killed Johann, an elephant guard. Johann was drunk and made a bet that he would bring Bubi to the pub. He was found dead in the morning in the straw in Bubi\'s stable, and Bubi had blood on his Tusks.
1930s: In the early thirties, the circus had 24 elephants, six bulls, and 18 cows.

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic
But the circus became heavily taxed, and the costs of keeping such a large show and so many animals, created economic problems, in communist Bohemia.

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

1934: Circus Kludsky declared bankrupt, and all animals were sold to Firma Ruhe in Alfeld. The Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression, and the Austrian Civil War together made the financial situation for the circus impossible, and Karel and his brother Rudolf declared bankruptcy on February 22, 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.

Photo: Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic
The Circus Amar elephants with Josef Hack. At least two bulls with Tusks can be seen in the middle.

Thanks to Mr Adrian who gave me information 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

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+RepublicAfter 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 Vinařice, but he preferred 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. Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic

Circus Kludsky in Czech Republic Czech+Republic
Karel Kludsky Jr. died 29th of November 1967, and his wife seven years later.

George Kludsky, son to Bohemil Kludsky (born in 1944) 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 were working the elephant Dumba in Europe, among other places at Cirque Stéphane Zavatta in France. She was later relocated for retirement to Elefantenhof Platschow.

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

References for records about Circus Kludsky

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2024). Circus Kludsky, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Litterature about Circus Kludsky

Recommended Litterature:

  • The Past and Present of Czech Circus. Hanuš Jordan, Veronika Štefanová, David Konečný.
  • Rudolf Kludský, Könige der Manege ("Kings of the Ring") (Vienna, Paul Zsolnay Verlag, 1950)
  • Karel Kludský and Václav Cibula, Zivot v manezi ("Life in the ring") (Prague, Orbis, 1966)
  • Tonda Hančl, Ejhle, cirkusy a variete: Prvni cesky cirkusovy slovnik ("Lo and Behold, circus and variety: First Czech circus dictionary") (Brno, Rovnost, 1995) — ISBN 978-8085826098
  • Dagmar Kludská, Vzpomínky schované v duši: historie rodiny Kludských ("Memories hidden in the soul: the history of the Kludský family") (Prague, Brána, 2005) — ISBN 80-7243-239-7

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