3 Lion Tamers You Have Never Heard Of: A For Kids History Podcast


1. Clyde Beatty was born in 1903 in Bainbridge Ohio. He was so inspired after seeing his first circus he decided to start his own when he was 9 using his own pets as acts and neighbors as an audience. When Clyde was 17 he decided to move on from his backyard to a real circus. He began his animal training career with four polar bears. In his 20 is he become the youngest animal trainer. Clyde is famous for wearing the Safari style outfit with a pith helmet and carrying a whip and a chair into the ring with wild cats.  In some acts he would have lions, tigers, cougars, and hyenas in the same act. Clyde appeared on television and radio crossing over from big top fame to silver screen notoriety. Clyde married an aerialist named Harriet Evans who trained by Clyde became an animal trainer for the circus as well. He was also famous for saying that big cats can only- be trained never tamed!

2. Irina Bugrimova was a one of a kind. Irina was the first woman to train lions in Russia where she created unforgettable and very unique acts. In her 35 year career, Irina trained over 70 lions and one liger! Irina even trained a lion to walk on a high wire (to be a little fair it was to wires but still!) Irina created acts were lions would ride on the back of horses or on the back of a motorcycle with Irina driving and the lion holding on behind her. Irina began life on a very unique path. She was born in 1910 to a ballerina mother and a veterinarian father. When she was 17 she was the Soviet Unions speed skating champion. Not one to rest on past achievements she joined the circus as a teenager to be a trapeze artist. Irina even received the prestigious award from Prince Rainier of Monaco at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo


3.I'm going to cheat a bit for number three. Mabel did train some lions but she was mostly known as the most famous tiger trainers, Mabel Stark was born in Toronto Canada in 1889 and had originally trained as a nurse. On graduating she realized that nursing would not make her happy. She went to California to recuperate. In 1911 she visited Selig Zoo in Los Angeles when she fell in love with a tiger. Some sources say the tiger was being treated badly others say the tiger was working with a stuntman. Either way, Mabel left nursing behind buying a tiger for $350 and began to train the tiger herself. After joining the  Barnes Circus and apprenticing with the (legendary animal trainer Louis Roth in 1916 she debuted her act with up to 16 tigers in a cage. Part of Mabel's fane was appearing in the cage with no gun, whip or chair.

If you have found another famous lion tamer to make up for the third, make a comment below with a link. I would love to see what you have found and publish my favorite on the site with your name!