SCENE | The Lion Taming Cage

Photo of Pat English, a 17-year-old lion tamer in Ft. Lauderdale, by John Phillips, 1940.

"Like almost everyone else, Pat English dreamed of being famous. But two years ago she was merely a pretty 15-year-old kid at Bayside (N.Y.) High School, and the chances for fame seemed small indeed. Then one day she read an exciting account of how the great Clyde Beatty was opening a school at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for girl lion trainers. She immediately registered. Pat was one of ten girls who started the course. Eight of them quit the first time they ever saw a lion. Another quit when she saw the lions chew up a mule. Only Pat was left to learn how to use the whip, gun and kitchen chair with which lion tamers overawe their animals. On her second day alone in the cage she was almost clawed to death. Stepping backward, she fell over a block of wood. Only the prompt appearance of Beatty saved her. Today Pat is 17 and a first-rate lion trainer." —LIFE Magazine, June 22, 1940.

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Amielle said...

That is so inspiring! Such a great story/photo combo. Have fun!

Jorie said...

More animal abuse :(

Lizzie said...

I actually agree, it's not an image that sits well with me in the context of animal rights, but I think it's also important to think about this image in the context of 1940. This sort of thing would never be reported on by a major American magazine in 2012, in my opinion, for good reason. I think it shows the profound fearlessness of Pat English, but I feel really conflicted about it as well. It's good to know how far we've come on this issue in this country.

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