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June 18, 2022

Carl & Ida Krone Strolling Through Berlin With Their Pet Cheetah, 1924

Pictures of Carl and Ida Krone on a walk with their pet cheetah on the streets of Berlin in 1924:

There is no doubt, according to Frank Keller, the man responsible for animal welfare at the world-famous Circus Krone, that founder Carl Krone always was a “great visionary.”

Born on October 21, 1870, Carl was the youngest of four children in the family of carnival operators. From an early age, the children were part of the family business. Carl, however, was sent to school in Berlin where he lived with his aunt and uncle, only to return to the circus after his older brother Fritz died as a result of a bear attack.

Carl and Frederike Krone and their children: daughters Sophie, Stina and Friederike and young Carl, Jr., ca.1880.

All of a sudden, Carl was designated to take over the family business some day. Animal dressage became his passion. In 1893, he presented a huge sensation: Pasha the lion riding on a horse. The circus had already made a name for itself at the time with an elephant act, and to this day, the elephant features in the circus’ logo.

Krone senior died in 1900, and 30-year-old Carl Krone took over the business. Two years later he married his childhood sweetheart Ida Ahlers, who also came from a family of carnival operators. The young man integrated the Ahler’s “monkey show” into the Krone circus program, and his wife moved from working with monkeys to lions — her pyramid with 24 big cats was legendary.

Ida Krone and her lions, ca. 1910s.

Carl Krone renamed the family’s Continental Menagerie traveling show to Circus Krone. With a 36-metre-high round top that could seat 3,000 visitors, the circus toured Europe. In the 1920s, the tent had three rings, two stages and 10,000 seats, the circus employed 1,000 people and kept about 800 animals.

The founder shaped the circus to an extent still visible today — he introduced glamour to the ring. He wanted the audiences to enjoy sensational acts in luxurious surroundings, complete with heavy chandeliers under the big top, thick plush carpets and circus ushers and servers dressed in elegant livery.

The Krone tent was a magnificent palace where young and old were transported to far-off, luxurious worlds. To this day, nostalgia is part of the Circus Krone program. Just last year, the “Mandana” program enchanted the audience with nostalgic music, white Pierrot clowns, and more than a touch of magic as a fairytale unfolded — the story of the horse princess Mandana who falls in love with a lion man.


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