William "Buckles" Woodcock Jr

Being son to the elephant trainer William Woodcock Sr, and born 26 Februry 1935 on the circus, "Buckles" grew up with animals, and by 18, performed with elephant Anna May in the ring. When "Buckles" was a baby, he was buckled and harnessed to keep him safe near the animals, giving him his nickname. Aerialist Barbara Ray, whose parents, LaLea and Ruben Ray, had a tiny circus called Marlowe's Mighty Hippodrome, married Buckles and joined the act. Their children, Shannon and Dalilah, and Barbara's son, Ben Williams, and his family, have all performed with Anna May.

In 2001, Woodcock permanently retired two elephants, the 17-year-old female African elephant Amy, and Anna May, the 57-year-old female Asian elephant, at Riddles elephant sanctuary in Arkansas.

Woodcock has a large archive of photos, which can partly be see at his blog, Buckles WebLog

Children, with Barbara Ray, b. 1934


Buckles & Company, 1949, by Marilyn Cohen. Three-year-old Anna May comes to William Woodcock to learn to be a circus performer. For the next 50 years the African Woodland elephant will be a member of his family.