Hugo Schmitt , circus elephant trainer in United States
Born 1904-07-19 in Germany
dead 1977-08-09 in United States
Hugo Schmitt was born in Bann, (Rheinland-Pfalz) Germany, son to Anna-Maria and lumberjack Peter Schmitt.
Schmitt started as Zookeeper at Hagenbecks Zoo, learned elephant training from Wilhelm Philadelphia,
and advanced to head elephant keeper, and then became chief trainer of elephants at the Hagenbecks Circus. During the 30s he went several times to India, in order to select elephants to import to europe, and he married Jenny, from the island Sylt, in north Germany.
Hugo Schmitt had accompanied Hagenbeck's Circus to London for the winter season of 1936 to 1937 at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, and among his Herd
of elephants had two (at that time rare) African specimens. He was one of the first trainers to work with the Species.
In Hagenbeck 1934
In July 1943 phosporus bombs fell on Hamburg, and Hagenbecks Tierpark was more or less destroyed in 90 minutes. 400 animals lost their lifes. During the first bombs however, Hagenbeck Tierparks head elephant keeper Fritz Theisinger,
took the chains of the elephants, and released them into the out enclosure.
It was obvious that the valuable elephants were at risk. Circus Hagenbeck sent Hugo Schmitt to Sweden in 1944 with the five best elephants, since Sweden was neutral, in order to save them. Hugos family stayed behind in Hamburg.
But contrary, one day was written in the Swedish newspapers, that the elephants was confiscated as spoils of war by Sweden.
Taken from the March 8, 1947 Billboard
UNHAPPY ELEPHANT TRAINER RELEASES FIVE BULLS on STREET
Stockholm, Sweden, March 1
Upset by the decision of the Swedish govenment to sell the animals of the former German-owned Carl Hagenbeck
Circus, a German elephant trainer turned loose the show's five bulls in Malmoe Feb. 23. The elephants charged down main street smashing windows, breaking lamposts and terrorizing citizens.
Police, after vain attempts to halt the animals, appealed to the trainer, Capt. Hugo Schmidt, to round them up. Weeping bitterly, Schmidt finally consented and regained control of his charges.
With tears streaming down his face, Schmidt said: The State is making a great mistake in selling them. They have been trained together and love each other. If they are parted they will die.
Mr Hagenbeck contacted Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in U.S.A. and offered the elephants. Mr Ringling came personally to Sweden and purchased the elephants, on condition that Hugo Schmitt came with them as trainer, and managed to arrange a Visa for him, so he could go with the elephants to USA.
Hugo Schmitt went with the elephants to U.S.A. and the five elephants Icky, Karnaudi, Minjak (captive-born), Mutu and Sabu arrived at Ringlings in 20 June 1947. Now Hugo Schmitt was responsible for Ringlings previous 38 elephants, plus the 5 ones he brought from Sweden.
Together with Hugo and the elephants, came also Lulu Gautier
as Schmitts assistant.
Mr. Schmitt joined the Ringling Show with his five German elephants 6/20/47 in Pittsburgh. This young African (Abilee) was delivered six days later in New Brunswick, NJ. to be added to his act. This picture of Hugo with "Minyak" and "Abilee" taken July 27 in Detroit while unloading. In early August, after a stay of about 6 weeks, Hugo and eight elephants were shipped to Sarasota to assemble the 1948 center ring act. For some Unknown
reason a young Adult
African elephant "Sudan" (the last of the 1936 "Pygmies") was included rather than "Abilee".