Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dieter Wichert Collection - Gunther Gebel-Williams

Courtesy of Dieter Wichert:

Thursday, December 30, 2010
Old Ringling Pictures
"Piccolo watching 'The Boss' giving Toby a manicure while smoking a Marlboro,
circa 1970-71." //Dieter Wichert

The elephants pictured in this photograph from the collection of Mr. Wichert are identified as Eva to the left, Toby in the middle and Baby to the right.

Toby and Baby were two of 17 elephants which arrived to America in late 1968 [Correction: Toby was not one of these 17 elephants. See commentary below.] Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus leased all the animal acts from Circus Williams of Germany and, under the new ownership of the Feld family, created a second unit to tour the United States. Both Toby and Baby still perform with the Ringling Red Unit to this day.

Eva was acquired the following year with two other elephants, the three of which were purchased from Wilbur Deppe along with a 12 pony liberty act. The fomer Circus World Museum performing elephant remained with Ringling until the early 1980s and was retired 13 years later to Riddle's Elephant Sanctuary in Arkansas.

"Rembering a true superstar, circus legend, and consummate performer...
Gunther Gebel-Williams (September 12, 1934 - July 19, 2001)
Today, September 12, would have been Gunther's seventy-seventh birthday."
//Henry Penndorf

Gunther Gebel-Williams
Courtesy of H Penndorf / Buckles Blog

For further information regarding the Circus Williams herd and their import in late 1968, please reference the former article at ShowMe Elephants discussing the history of the original Circus Chipperfield herd.

>> "Jim Stockley Collection - Chipperfields 1956" at ShowMe Elephants," 06/12/2011


  1. Dieter WichertSeptember 13, 2011

    Ryan, nice elephant blog. Just wanted you to know a correction ....Toby and Baby were two of 17 elephants which arrived to America in late 1968...... Toby was NOT one of the original elephants that came over with us. After the first season in 1969 John Herriott brought Tapsy, Eva and Toby which were then added to our herd for the 1970 season. I believe these 3 elephants also performed before at the Circus museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin... John Herriott will know for sure.

  2. Thank you, Dieter. I was aware of the three Circus World Museum elephants - I do not know why I did not catch my error! Thank you for the correction and thank you for sharing your picture to celebrate Gunther's birthday.

  3. Deiter,
    Piccy has to have a Budweiser stashed someplace near. He used to knock on my trailer door every night at 10:00 to see if I would go out and get him a "packet of Marlboro and a 6 pack of Budweiser," as GGW had "grounded him." A unique and wonderful little man.

    Wade Burck


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.