Gunther Gebel , circus animal trainer in United States
Born 1934-09-12 in Germany
dead 2001-07-19 in United States
Gunther was born with the family name Gebel in the german town of Schweidnitz, now part of Poland.
His father, Max Gebel, was a scenic carpenter and his mother, Elfriede, a theater seamstress.
In 1947, Circus Williams was looking for a seamstress: Elfriede took the job, and Gunther Gebel, age thirteen, entered the world of Circus Williams, where he would spend the next two decades of his life. His widowed mother worked at Circus Williams as taylor. Elfriede left after a few weeks, but left Gunther in the care of the Williamses as an apprentice with a five-year contract and Gunther started to help with the animals from young age.
Gunther learned abouth horses from Harry Williams,
and about large carnivor training from Charly Baumann
and Gerd Siemoneit.
1950-12-22: During christmas engagement for Tom Arnold at the Harringay Arena in London, Harry Williams
had an accident, he was violently ejected from his chariot.
1951-01-10: Harry Williams
died of his injuries.
1951: Carola Williams
leased her circus to Harry Barley, and sent Gunther to her brother, Franz Althoff, from whom Gunther learned how to train elephants.
1952: Carola took charge of her circus again, together with her brother Adolf Althoff,
and she gave more resonsibilities to her adopted son Gunther Gebel-Williams, while her own children was not traveling with the circus due to their education. Gunther improved his elephant training from Adolf Althoff.
1956: Adolf Althoff
left the circus, and 22 years old Gunther now took over the elephants from him. He also developed further with horses, being schooled by Carolas father, Dominik Althoff
1956: Gunther Gebel-Williams at Circus Williams 1956 in Erlangen in Germany
1960: Alfons Williams
died in a car accident in Belgium.
Circus Williams in Berlin, 1960
1961: At sixteen, Gunther became leader of the circus, after Harry Williams
died in the ring, and he changed his family name to Gebel-Williams after he married Harry Williams
and Carolas daughter Jeanette Williams.
Circus Willams elephants and Gunther Gebel-Williams
1961: The circus had 11 elephants, showed in the ring by Gunther.
1962: Gunther trained an act with the african elephant Kongo and his trusted tiger Bengali.