Sells-Floto Circus in United States

Sells-Floto Circus


Owner 1920-1929: Jerry Mugivan
1920-1929: Bert Bowers
1929-1932: John Ringling
First elephant arrived1902
Closed down1932
Country United States

Directors: Zack Terrell (director)
: Fred B. Hutchinson (director)

Key People: Adele Nelson (artist)
1922-1932: Emory Stiles (menagerie superintendent)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
1924?: Louis Reed
(elephant superintendent)
-: Jimmy Dooley
(elephant superintendent)
-: J. Smith
(assistant superintendent)
-: William Gibson
(assistant superintendent)
1906-1909: Christian Zeitz
(elephant superintendent)
1909-1917: Fred Alispaw
(elephant superintendent)
1921-1922: Emory Stiles
(elephant superintendent)
1923-1923: Christian Zeitz
(elephant superintendent)
1929-1929: Bill Emery
(elephant superintendent)
1927-1929: Joe Metcalf
(elephant superintendent)
1930-1932: William Woodcock Sr.
(elephant trainer)
1929-1932: Clyde Baudendistle
(elephant superintendent)

Elephant keepers-1926: Arky Scott
Record history
History of updates2022-05-07

Latest document update2022-05-07 05:00:49
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Sells-Floto Circus, United States , was founded in 1902 and the first elephant arrived in 1902. Sells-Floto Circus closed down in 1932.

Comments / pictures1902: Founded as Otto Floto Dog & Pony Show in 1902 (already with leased Lockhart elephants and Samuel Lockhart)
1906: this show became a regular circus and was enlarged, using for the first time the name Sells-Floto Circus.
1906-1909: Cristian Zeit elephant superintendent.

Sells-Floto Circus in United States United+States
Sells-Floto elephants Snyder and Alice, with trainer Christian Zeitz.

1909-1917: Fred Alispaw was in charge of the Sells-Floto elephants.

Records about Sells-Floto Circus from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at
Sells-Floto Circus in United States United+States

As near as I can determine Fred Alispaw spent his entire career with Sells-Floto starting out as a menagerie hand with the Otto Floto Dog & Pony Show.

He took over the elephant Herd from the original trainer Christian Zeitz in 1909 and remained in charge thru 1917. This is the first time I have shown this full set of the elephant act while being photographed in the back yard in 1912. Elephants are "Mary", "Snyder", "Trilby", "Alice", "Frieda" and "Floto".

William "Buckles" Woodcock

1910: 1910: H. H. Tammen writes from Denver, May 9: "My dear Patrick. The big event was the birth of a baby elephant, which we have named "Little Hutch." It occurred April 26, at San Francisco, Cal. Our San Francisco engagement was the largest ever played, I believe, by any circus that ever visited there, all of which was due, of course, to the exploitation of the baby elephant. And what made the business larger than it ever was before was that after playing to six turnaways out of eight performances, with immense crowds in front of the canvas, we sold tickets admitting the people to the menagerie, which included the baby elephant, and to the side show for twenty-five cents. On one occasion ther were so many people in the side show and menagerie, which is 110 round top with three forties, that we had to stop selling. I don't think that is has ever been recorded where a circus tent of 160, with three fifties, eighteen tiers high and reserves fourteen, with 700 extra chairs in front of the reserves, and then on the hippodrome track, was filled this way.
The famous baby elephant born with Sells-Floto Shows at Salinas, Cal., April 25, died at Pendleton, Oregon, June 6. The loss is a severe one to the management. The birth of this elephant startled the scientific world. Everything was done to keep it alive. With the birth of the elephant the Sells-Floto business took on enormous proportions.

New York clippings 1910
1920: In December, 1920, the Sells-Floto Circus was sold to Mugivan and Bowers.
1922: The coming of the eight baby elephants to Salem, Mass., from the Hagenback zoo,
Hamburg, Germany, marked the New England tour.
1924: The elephant Herd of fourteen was trained by Louis Reed and worked in three rings by Kathryn Thompson, Irene Ledgett, and Madge Fuller (Bandwagon)
1926: 14 elephants. During this year was several stampades; at Edmonton, Calgary and finally at Cranbrook the elephants bolted and run into the forest. Cicero, Bessie and Virginia was caught with the help of an indian Kootenay woman called Mary Janet, who appearently hobbled Cicero. Mrs Janet who was rewarded with 300$. The next to be captured was Frieda and Chalie-Ed. Even later Tillie and Myrtle was located, but Myrtle died because of pneumonia in the mountains.
1929: Passed into the hands of John Ringling in September, 1929 when he bought out the American Circus Corporation.
1929: (Elephant boss: G. Baudendistle) 11 asian elephant, among them 2 bulls Charlie Ed and Snyder II.
1932: Closed down.

References for records about Sells-Floto Circus

Recommended Citation

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

Sources used for this article is among others:

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