Elephant, Bertram Mills' Circus

Elephant, Bertram Mills' Circus

This act is from the 1949/50 Olympia season. The act being performed was called the 'Elephant Ballet': 'An amazing act by twelve girls, six of them human'. The elephants at Bertram Mills' Circus were carefully looked after. The first elephants to perform for a circus were Baba and Kiouny who were seen in Franconi's Circus in Paris in 1816. They have been part of the circus tradition ever since, and from the 1870s, troupes of elephants were being taught increasingly difficult tricks. Each elephant belonging to Bertram Mills' Circus had its own groom who slept on a camp bed in the tent with the animal. Performers recall that 'not the slightest cruelty was tolerated'. The trainers knew and understood each animal individually.