Circus Knie in Switzerland

Circus Knie

Local name Schweizer National-Circus

Owner 1919-1931: Friedrich Knie
1992-: Ashoka Dangolla
1992-: Rolf Knie
1992-: Fredy Knie Jr.
1931-now: National-Circus AG
Address St. Wendelinstrasse 10
Zip-code 8640
Place Rapperswil
Country Switzerland
Website Website

Directors: Tina Knie (assistant director)
: Doris Agostini (assistant director)
-1937: Margrit Lippuner (assistant director)
1919-1941: Friedrich Knie (director)
1941-1992: Rolf Knie Sr. (director)
1941-1992: Fredy Knie Sr. (director)
1992-2016: Franco Knie (director)
2016: Franco Knie Jr. (director)

Key People: Sacha Houcke Sr. (animal trainer)
: Sacha Houcke Jr. (animal trainer)
: Otto Sailer-Jackson (animal trainer)
: Maycol Errani (artist)
: Karl Kossmayer (animal trainer)
: Peter Balder (animal trainer)
-: Eugen Knie (artist)
-: Géraldine Knie (animal trainer)
-: Maycol Errani Jr. (artist)
-: Helene Zeller (artist)
-: Eliane Knie (artist)
-: Pat Freeman (artist)
1952-1952: Douglas Kossmayer (animal trainer)
1974-1974: Daniel Suskov (animal trainer)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
: Josef Hack
(elephant stable master)
1944-: Fritz Oehme
(elephant trainer)
1937-1939: Franz Kraml
(chief elephant trainer)
1952-1952: Wenzel Kossmayer
(elephant trainer)
-1966?: Franz Tisch
(elephant trainer)
1981-1982: Banda Vidane
(elephant stable master)
1955-1983: Ruppert Bemmerl
(elephant trainer)
1955-1993: Louis Knie Sr.
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers-1963: Wolfgang Ramin
1955-1955: Fred Kurt
1967-1968: Markus Schmid
Record history
History of updates2022-04-01

Latest document update2022-04-01 14:31:56
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Circus Knie, located at St. Wendelinstrasse 10, in Rapperswil, Switzerland , was founded in 1919.

Comments / picturesThe circus is touring in summers and staying at winterquarters in Rapperswil Childrens Zoo in the village of Rapperswil South of Zürich.

The Knie showbusiness dynasty was founded in the early 19th century by an Austrian, Frederic Knie (1784-1850), whose family became famous as acrobats and tightwire performers in the village squares, working al fresco.

26 December 1900 immigrated Ludwig Knie (1842–1909) and his wife Marie Heim (1858–1936) and their five children in Gemeinde Gerlikon-Gachnang in Kanton Thurgau, and became Swiss citizens, and 1907, they settled in Rapperswil, by the Lake Zurich, where his sons Louis Knie
(1880 - 1949), Friedrich Knie (1884 - 1941), Rudolf Knie (1885 - 1933), Karl Knie (1888 - 1940) and Eugen Knie (1890 - 1955) decided in 1919 to start a circus. Receiving no financial assistance from their widowed mother, they obtained credit from the Swiss tentmakers, Geisers, who gave them a two-poler big top, enabling them to open their travelling show on 1 June 1919 in Berne.

Obituary: Rolf Knie Sr., by D Nevil

1944: 11 elephants, 1 hippo and 1 school horse went to National Circus Gebr. Knie from the Sarrasani together with Fritz Oehme trainer. Names: The 11 elephant bought by Knie from Sarrasani were: Menta, Tony, Rani, Herta, Punchy, Claudia, Maundy, Contess, Mary, Tarka and Frieda

From Tierpark Hellabrunn (Munich Zoo) in Munich came the experienced elephant trainer Josef Hack, who also had experience with bulls and breeding. From 1953 Hack cared for and trained the African bull elephant Tembo on Circus Knie, who came same year from Basel Zoo and was sold through Firma Ruhe to Hannover Zoo in 1963, where he sired four babies.

Circus Knie in Switzerland SwitzerlandElephant trainer Josef Hack with Tembo at Blackpool Tower Circus in England.

1955: Another famous elephant trainer who worked for Knie was Ruppert Bemmerl, born 1931 in Steinach, Germany, who left Billy Smart’s Circus and joined Circus Knie in 1955. Bemmerl was also later responsible for Rappersville Kinderzoo.

Circus Knie in Switzerland Switzerland

In 1956, Rolf Knie Sr. had seven young African elephants in the ring, five of them on loan from Basel Zoo.

Circus Knie in Switzerland Switzerland

On 15 February 1963 the first birth of an Asian elephant in Switzerland was announced: Sahib-Fridolin was the son of Circus Knies elephants Ceylon and Siam. The baby elephant was hand-reared by Josef Hack and his wife with the bottle because Ceylon had no milk and she died only three months after giving birth.

The elephant live permanently in Knies Kinderzoo.

Circus Knie in Switzerland SwitzerlandFred Knie Sr. and Fredy Knie Jr.

References for records about Circus Knie

Recommended Citation

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

Sources used for this article is among others:

Circus Knie on

Circus Knie is mentioned on Elephant News:

DateLinks which opens in new window
Rolf knie, 75, elephant trainer and swiss circus family leader - Elephant News
2007-10-31A male asian born at oji zoo, kobe, japan on 21 october 2007 - Elephant News
2008-03-13Joey ratliff at buckles weblog: circus knie in switzerland - Elephant News
2012-03-22Swiss circus knie forces chubby elephants to diet - Elephant News

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