'A daring feat' The Tiger Chariot Act of Wirth's Circus 1901-1906
Image Credit: J.R. Mann Photographer
Auckland 19 May 1902
Reproduced with the kind courtesy of
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19020529-10-3
These days with the advent of growing opposition against the use of animals performing in circuses an image like this would be frowned upon. Below is a brief summary I wrote up about the animals in this act.
Prince and Pasha are harnessed to the chariot, with Kitty the Tigress playing the part of ‘Jehu’ The trainer was known by the name Monsieur Ragoul or Rogalle in some publications.
The act debuted as a finale on
28 August 1901, where Wirth Brother’s Circus and
Menagerie were conducting performances at Rockhampton in Queensland Australia.
The trainer at the time was referred to as ‘Monsieur Soueki’. The Bengal tigers Prince, Pasha and Kitty
performed with the two male tigers harnessed to the chariot and Kitty riding in
“…A new act is to be put on to-night as a finale to the programme M. Soueki who has entered the tigers' cage nightly, will show his animals in a sensational act in the centre of the ring. A large wire cage has been erected around the ring and M. Soueki will enter it with the three tigers. After repeating their various tricks, two of the tigers will be attached to a chariot and draw it round the ring, and the third will jump on to the box seat and act as driver…” wrote The Morning Bulletin (28 August 1901).
Philip Wirth later wrote from
to his brother George advising him that the act had been successfully performed
at Rockhampton and had gone off ‘with a hitch’. Queensland
During the latter part of 1901 the circus traveled extensively through
to showcase this spectacular act. Australia
Bengal tigers, Prince, Pasha, and Kitty, ferocious forest-bred animals that
perform on awe-inspiring act. The entire circus arena is enclosed with a steel
cage, the tigers are let loose, .
Ragoul, their trainer, enters the cage and makes them seesaw, play leapfrog,
jump hoops, roll barrels and globes, and finally harnesses two tigers like
horses to a chariot, and a third drives them rapidly around the arena..”. Mons
In 1902 during the
tour, the trainer had some trouble
with one of the male tigers, when the animal refused to stand up during a
performance in New
Zealand . Auckland
The act was performed in
tours in the years 1902 and 1904
respectively. No further performances using the tigers in this manner were seen
in this country after 1904. New
The Act was discontinued around 1906 when the last advertisement of Wirth Circus mentioning the performance appeared in January of that same year. After 1906, no further references are made.
 ‘Pasha’ who was reported in May 1901(Taranaki Herald 16 May 1901) attacking Carl Wirth. Wirth had sat on the tiger during a performance in
. The tiger inflicted serious injuries to the
trainer’s leg. The animal was apparently to be held for exhibition purposes only.
Pasha had 5 previous incidences of attacking his trainer. Queensland
 Jehu was a 9th century b.c. biblical king of Israel
 When, the act was first reported by the Morning Bulletin (
the trainer was referred to as . Soueki Mons
 Morning Bulletin
28 August 1901
Courier Brisbane 31 August 1901
 The Register
14 December 1901
 Hawera and Normanby Star
20 June 1902
 Advertisements The West Australian
20 January 1906