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Jack Kung Fu

Safari & McMillan Tigers - Looking to Re-Connect

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I am looking to reconnect with some people from the past, approximate years 1974 to 1978 or so. My journey at Great Adventures started out with Butch Dring and getting permission from him to study the aniamls mainly the big cats & Babboons for my Martial Arts training. Butch gave me permission to study the animal via either spending time in there house's while they were inclosed or from the safety of the wardens trucks. This part of the journey took place for about 2 plus years. I was then introduced to David McMillan to be one of his assitance for the Tiger show, I was with the show for a full season including winter, spring & fall about 9 to 12 months. I would like to here from all involved, some names I remember, Leonard - Safari, Steve & his brother - tiger show and Sharon - tiger show, of course from wardrobe and who ever else might see this....

 

Jack P.

jackjakk66@yahoo.com

Edited by Jack Kung Fu

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Jack, can you give us some 'inside' information about the show? How long was the show? Where did they keep the tigers between performances and at night? Any info would be appreicated!

 

gallery_2_43_1050227.jpg

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I have some film of his act at GA from 1978. It is on utube under my name, Harry put the link on this site? Harry??? I first saw Daves act in California back in 1973 at the Japanese Village and Deer Park. I was with our Vet Dr. Martin R. Dinnes, and all his cats were young and the baby bottles were effective for training. He has some mean ass German Shepards in the act then too that were meaner than the tigers!

Edited by Gary Hill

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The tiger show ran for about 30 to 45 minutes. At the time I was there we had 22 tigers, 1 lion poncho & 1 leopard nena in the show.

The tigers in the tiger show were kept in pens built for them behind the Great Arena. We had pens and a large exercise area that we would let them go in, we only allowed certain cats to mix with certain other cats, there would be big time problems if we let the wrong cats mix together. At night they all got locked down inside there house which had the pens inside.

There was an above the ground tunnel built out of heavy chain link fence that ran from the pens to the show arena, this was about 200 feet long or so, we would run them down this tunnel in exact order because all the cats did not get along, if they got mixed up going into the ring there would be huge problems for McMillan inside the ring.

Every time there was a show we would run the cats down this tennel and into the ring, McMillan would be inside the ring waiting for them so he could place them exactly where they should go or which platform they belonged on, this was a very tense moment. McMillan had some very large and very aggressive tigers, this is not common for trainers to take these kind of chances, he deffinately had them under his control, no doubt. I trained attack dogs for a number of years prior to working with David and he does have guts.

Edited by Jack Kung Fu

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That is great information Jack! Thanks for sharing it with us.

 

Was the "tiger tunnel" connected to the tiger section in the Safari or were they seperate? It would seem that the pens for the show tigers were near the Safari tigers. (?)

 

Did you ever see the souvenir show booklet that was available at the park in the 1970s for the tiger show? If not, I can scan and post it in our galleries. It is full of photos and info on the show.

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We originally posted Gary's videos to YouTube because we were had a low upload limit on our system at the time. Since then it has been increased and we can now accomodate them "in house" and not have to use YouTube for the larger files.

 

I'll work on getting them switched over and added to our galleries and post a note when this has been completed. It should be done this weekend.

 

 

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Tunnels to run big cats into the cage for their act has been around for a long time. Traveling circus's us them all the time, nothing new or differant. Also the order of entrance of the cats is also the same each show. Every cat trainer has a routine before the act begins and also there is an order of exits. I groomed for Jewell News Lions (15) and Charyl Baumanns Tigers (14) on the Blue Unit of RBBB in 1978, the year we visited GA and saw David, we were showing in the Garden in NYC. The area behind the Great Arena was actually the orginal office of the Safari and construction site office while the park was being built.

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The area behind the Great Arena was actually the original office of the Safari and construction site office while the park was being built.

 

That makes a LOT of sense and I'm surprised I never realized it before. I knew that the buildings of Camp Wanda were there as part of the original Girl Scout camp which predated the park. They're some of the few buildings on property that predate the park at this point and are now used for vehicle maintenance.

 

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Yes maintenance dept was there orginally and our trucks were serviced there when needed. We parked our trucks at Animal Care Center and had our own entrance off of Reed Rd back then.

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I am looking to reconnect with some people from the past, approximate years 1974 to 1978 or so. My journey at Great Adventures started out with Butch Dring and getting permission from him to study the aniamls mainly the big cats & Babboons for my Martial Arts training. Butch gave me permission to study the animal via either spending time in there house's while they were inclosed or from the safety of the wardens trucks. This part of the journey took place for about 2 plus years. I was then introduced to David McMillan to be one of his assitance for the Tiger show, I was with the show for a full season including winter, spring & fall about 9 to 12 months. I would like to here from all involved, some names I remember, Leonard - Safari, Steve & his brother - tiger show and Sharon - tiger show, of course from wardrobe and who ever else might see this....

 

Jack P.

jackjakk66@yahoo.com

 

Hi Jack...I worked in both the arena show( in 1976, I believe) and then with Dave McMillian in 1977.

I was friends at the time with Daryal Maffia and Tom Andretta who worked there with me.

What a blast....

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Hello to all past & present show people.

 

I was amazed to find this site bursting with so many wonderful memories!

I was one of the dancers in the Great Arena show for two years.

Working around Dave McMillan and The Bauers was priceless.

 

The most amazing days of my life.

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^ Welcome to the site! We continue to add new information almost every week so be sure to check back! If you have any stories (or photos) of your days at the park we would love for you to share them. :)

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Hello to all past & present show people.

 

I was amazed to find this site bursting with so many wonderful memories!

I was one of the dancers in the Great Arena show for two years.

Working around Dave McMillan and The Bauers was priceless.

 

The most amazing days of my life.

 

 

I too was Zebra Dancer and Lion Lady. I then went on to work for Ringling Bros. Circus. Once again, I was able to work with the Bauer's there. I also worked on a show in Argentina with Dave Mc Millan's brother, Brian.

 

I never realized at how small the circus world was at the time. I had no idea what opportunities would come from my experience working in the Arena.

 

Do you remember when the baby tigers were born in the exercise pen one night? The were injured and Dave nursed them back to health by hand. His german sheppard (Zeke?) watched over them like their mother. Haven't thought about that in years!

 

Patti

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Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen My name is Günter and I live in Osnabrück/Germany. Recently I have also become a passionate fellow reader of your wonderfully competent page on the Great Adventure, but especially on the History. For a long time I have had a great admiration for an idol of mine, the tiger coach Dave Mcmillan with his biography and photos. I was kind enough to receive this wonderful souvenir booklet from the good Harry, which I was very happy about. But unfortunately I can't contribute like all of you here something personally experienced from the Tiger Show with Master Trainer David Mcmillan and therefore I'm very attached to her lips, which have so much memories to contribute. Many thanks for that! Best regards, your fan Günter

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

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