François Bidel

François Bidel

A carte-de-visite showing an illustration of the lion tamer François Bidel (1839-1909).

Born at Rouen on 23 October 1839, Bidel died at Asnières on 24 December 1909. Several British newspapers published obituaries. The following is from the Daily Telegraph & Courier (25 December 1909):

'M. Bidel, a lion-tamer, who seems to have been, like the poets, born not made, has just died, after a few years of retirement spent in the enjoyment of the comfortable fortune he had amassed. He was not eight years old when he made up his mind to tame lions. Running away from his home, which was a prosperous farm in Normandy, he went to join a travelling menagerie, and began his career at the bottom of the ladder. He cleaned out the wild beasts' cages and cooked their feed. Then he rose to leading tame bears, and at last reached the height of his ambition when he had a menagerie of his own, with real savage lions and tigers.

'For nearly forty years M. Bidel toured with them all over the Continent of Europe. He met with a fair share of accidents during his life. In 1886, at Neuilly fair, his lion Sultan leapt at his throat and dragged him about the floor of the cage. It took him a year to recover from his mauling. Some years ago one of his legs had to be amputated, owing to another accident. While touring in Italy he saved several persons attacked by wild beasts in his show, and received a decoration from the King for his gallant conduct. Although of late he did not go about with his menagerie, he always refused to sell his pets, which were still shown at fairs by his deputies.'

Published by Sarrault of Nanterre.

Code: 127378
© Paul Frecker 2022