Wild Animal Shows

Wild Animal Shows were staples of the World’s Fairs and Amusement parks of the early twentieth century. One big show belonged to Frank Charles Bostock, whose family ran menageries in England. He came to the United States and ran a show at, among other places, the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. He was peripherally involved with many of the performers at Wonderland, although he was not directly involved with the Revere Park.

Each year from 1906 through 1908 there was an Animal Show in a tent at the same site, opposite the Fighting the Flames show.

1906 — Ferari’s Wild Animals

The Ferari brothers started out working under Bostock until they branched out on their own. They split the show into two parts, and the one that came to Wonderland was run by Giacomo “Joseph” Ferari.

The elaborately carved front was their own property, and fronted a very large tent, as shown in the background of this postcard

Joseph called himself “Colonel” — many of the early animal trainers took military titles (just as the balloonists called themselves “Professors”), arguing that they earned the title through their confrontations with animals

“Colonel” Giacomo “Joseph” Ferari

The Ferari’s specialty was mixed-breed cats, of the kind not normally found in nature because the ranges of the cats don’t overlap, such as the “Liger”, a cross between a Lion and a Tiger.

At the beginning of the 1906 season Ferari presented Wonderland with two cubs that were he result of a cross between an African leopard and an Indian panther. They were christened “Wonder” and “Land”

One of the felines from the Ferari show — an image from the 1906 souvenir book

Wonderland manager Floyd C. Thompson holds a lion cub, a gift from Frank Bostock.

The Ferari show also featured Hyenas, Bears, and Monkeys.

One of Ferari’s more interesting performances. “The Happy Family” featured all the named animals together in one cage.

Robert Blake’s Dog, Pony, and Monkey Circus

Robert Blake’s show was a lot less threatening than Feraris, having no large cats, hyenas, or bears. He had worked with the Feraris (who might have recommended him to Wonderland) and with Bostock, but it’s likely that he came to Wonderland because Willard’s Temple of Music came to Wonderland in 1907 as well. Willard and Blake had been touring together.

“Professor” Robert J. Blake

Fred Darling’s Dog, Pony, and Monkey Circus

The image probably shows Fred Darling.

This seems to be the front of the tent for Darling’s Circus.

After 1908

There are no further mentions of Wild Animal Shows, or Dog and Monkey Circuses after the 1908 season. Probably they were considered too expensive for Wonderland to host during its period of austerity.

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