Epi Vidane

From the list of elephant persons Family: Puncha

Epi Vidane
Allewathegomme Pallegiddere  Puncha

Personal details
Country Germany

Work locations
Title elephant trainer 1963-1969
Location at Circus Busch-Roland (Circus Busch) in Germany

Title elephant trainer 1952-1962
Location at Circus Busch-Berlin in Germany

Title elephant trainer 1930-1948
Location at Circus Busch (Paul Busch) in Germany

Title elephant trainer 1928-1930
Location at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in United States

Title elephant trainer 1926-1927
Location at Circus Busch (Paul Busch) in Germany

Title elephant trainer 1925-1926
Location at Circus Carl Hagenbeck-Stellingen in Germany

Title mahout-1925
Location at Sri Lanka unspecified location in Sri Lanka

Relevant literature
Biography details

Allewathegomme Pallegiddere Puncha , Sinhalese circus elephant trainer in Germany

Born 1890 in Sri Lanka dead ? in Germany .

"Epi Vidane" was born 1890 in Kandy, Ceylon (present Sri Lanka)

At an event hosted for King George V in Ceylon in 1925, Epi performed a trick with an elephant that caught the attention of Mr. Hagenbeck, the owner of one of the greatest Animal Parks (zoos) at the time. Epi’s trick, where the elephant lifted and carried Epi around while his head was in the elephant’s mouth, was an instant success. It marked the beginning of Epi’s career where Epi embarked on a journey that would change his life forever.

Impressed, Mr. Hagenbeck paid Epi to perform his trick in Hamburg at a show called Wonders of South India. Soon, Epi was on his way to Germany by boat, with his elephant as his companion.

Epi VidaneCircus Hagenbeck in Berlin, 1926. (The first elephant ridden by Epi Vidane) Photo: Bundesarchiv.

According to Banda Vidane, Epi claimed to have made himself 10 years older than the date of birth (1890) registered in his passport and said that he came from a wealthy Kandyan family, although Bandas daughter Ganesha doubts this assertion. While working with Mr. Hagenbeck, Epi was offered to train elephants for Circus Busch.

Epi Vidane

From 1928 – 1930, Epi was in America working with Ringling Bros and Barn & Bailey Circus but disliked America. “That was a time of racial segregation in America. He felt very uncomfortable there. In Europe he was a star, the exotic elephant man, and was treated with respect. In America, he was just a non-white-male worker,” Ganesha explained.

The dangers and excitement of circus life was also peppered by a few tragedies. Epi sold the elephant he brought from Sri Lanka, which he had taken with him to Hamburg and America, to buy his way out of his contract and finance his travels back to Europe. Unfortunately, his elephant did not perform the head trick with the new owner. The result was that the new owner’s head was crushed and the elephant was shot.

Epi returned to Circus Busch and stayed on until he retired in 1969.

Epi Vidane
Epi, Elisabeth and a young Banda Vidane

Epi Vidane
Epi Vidane and his son Banda Vidane, on circus tour in Germany 1953.


Total: 1 children

  1. Banda Vidane. Born: 1937.

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2023). elephant trainer Allewathegomme Pallegiddere Puncha in Germany. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 30 November 2023 at https://www.elephant.se/person.php?id=166. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

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Categories elephant trainer | circus | Circus Busch-Roland (Circus Busch) | Puncha family | Sinhalese people | Born 1890 | Dead ? | People from Germany

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