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Damu Dhotre Wild Animal Trainer

Damu Dhotre, Circus Animal Trainer

Aug. 31, 1902 - Jan. 23 1972

Damu Dhotre On Sparks Circs
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Damoo Dhotre
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Damoo Dhotre 7
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Damodar Gangaram "Damu" Dhotre was born in Pune, Maharashtra India, Aug. 31, 1902. At an early age Damu (often spelled Damoo), was inspired by the pioneer of circuses in India Vishnupant Chhatre. At the age of 15 he began working for his uncle Tukaram Ganpat Shelar who owned "Shelar's Royal Circus". Damu began performing on the trapeze and did a bicycle act, he was an instant success.

In 1930 Dhotre began working with wild animals, Leopards, tigers and lions. His style was unique at the time, stepping into the ring bare chested, without the traditional whip, chair or gun. In 1933 he took his act to Russia to work with "Izako's Russian Circus". Damu's act was noticed by the famous French animal trainer Alfred Court who invited Dhotre to Paris.

In 1940 John Ringling North hired Damu to work with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey along with Alfred Court. The Circus opened in New York's Madison Square Garden, Damu and Court work alternating performances, each performing their spectacular mixed animal acts.

In 1942 Dhotre's career was put on hold when he was drafted into the United States Army. The U. S. Army put Damu's fame to good use. Dhotre toured the U. S. making personal appearances with his exotic cats to raised funds for the war effort.

After the war Damu rejoined the Ringling where he was a featured center attraction. He continued on the show until 1950. After leaving Ringling Damu returned to Europe to perform with "Amaar Circus"

Damu's health began falling, he had suffered with asthma and other ailments for years, he was finally forced to give up performing and the life he loved. On December 12, 1953 Dhotre retired in India.

Damodar Gangaram Dhotre died in India on Jan. 23 1972

Note: There is an ongoing effort to erect a statue honoring Damu Dhotre in his home town of Puna, India.


1973 Damoo G. Dhotre was inducted in to the International Circus Hall of Fame.

Damu Dhotre on Sparks Bros. Circus
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Damu Dhotre
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Damu in U. S. Army 1942


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