Gunther Gebel-Williams

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Gunther Gebel-Williams
Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus Gunther Gebel-Williams 1977.jpg
Gunther Gebel-Williams with one of his trained leopards, circa 1977.
Born Gunther Gebel
(1934-09-12)September 12, 1934
Died July 19, 2001(2001-07-19) (aged 66)
Venice, Florida,  United States
Cause of death Brain tumor
Resting place Venice Memorial Gardens, Florida
Occupation Animal trainer
Spouse(s) Sigrid (Neubauer) Gebel
(m. 1968-2001, his death)
Children Tina Gebel-Del Moral
Mark Oliver Gebel

Gunther Gebel-Williams (September 12, 1934 - July 19, 2001) was an animal trainer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1968-1990.

Early life[edit]

Gebel was born in Schweidnitz, Lower Silesia (now Świdnica, Poland). As a child he and his mother emigrated to Germany when Silesia was ceded to Poland after World War II. His father was still missing in the Soviet Union when he and his mother started working for Circus Williams in Germany in 1947. When the owner suddenly died, his widow asked the then 18-year-old Gebel to train and take over which began his career as an animal trainer. He then took on the additional surname Williams.


Gebel was a well-known circus animal trainer. He came to prominence during the early days of television when the circus was still a popular form of entertainment. His appearances on television shows like The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, in addition to his work with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, accelerated his renown as a tamer primarily of elephants and tigers. He has a son, Mark, and a daughter, Tina. Their mother is Sigrid Gebel. After retiring from the ring, he took a management position as Vice President of Animal Care for the circus. He passed down onto his son, Mark, the job of animal trainer and performer.


He died of a brain tumor on July 19, 2001 in Venice, Florida under the name "Gunther Gebel-Williams".[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Animal trainer Gebel-Williams dies". CNN. July 20, 2001. Retrieved 2008-07-20. Gunther Gebel-Williams, the world-renowned circus animal trainer, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Venice, Florida. He was 66 years old and had been undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, a spokeswoman for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus said.