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Friday, January 14, 2011

BREAKING NEWS (FROM SCOTT BUNDY)

500 stitches later, Zerbini is still a lion tamer
PHOTO PROVIDED / TZ PRODUCTIONS
Lion trainer/circus owner Jean “Tarzan” Zerbini, with a female lion named ,Yola, draped over his shoulders. Zerbini is in town this weekend to be inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame.
By Billy Cox Friday, January 14, 2011
If you've been dying to know how it feels to get mutilated by a 400-pound lion, you can ask Jean “Tarzan” Zerbini all about it Saturday morning at PAL Sailor Circus.
“I was an idiot — I mixed male lions and female lions together, which I never should've done,” recalls Zerbini of a youthful indiscretion that broke his arm and took 500 stitches to repair. “The male just wanted to get to the female and I was in the way.”
Zerbini's career in gutsy showmanship is being rewarded this weekend when he joins five other entertainers for induction into the Circus Ring of Fame at St. Armands Circle.
On Sunday afternoon at 1:30, Zerbini, bandmaster Charles Schlarbaum and legendary sideshow performer/owner Ward Hall will be honored alongside Andres, Alberto, and Alfredo Atayde, all veterans of Mexico's longest running circus, Circo Atayde Hermanos. The ceremonies are open to the public.
But the six will also convene at a more intimate public forum at 10 a.m. tomorrow for a discussion called “The Art of Entertaining the Public.” It's safe to say that certain acts — like Hall, who used to book the human freak shows, and Zerbini, who packed up to 20 big cats in a ring at once — are likely the last of a breed.
Now 68, Zerbini assumed a Tarzan persona by dressing in a leopardskin diaper and swinging into the cage like the fabled King of the Apes. But unlike famed trainer Clyde Beatty, Zerbini eschewed the whip, the chair and the blank-shooting pistol for animated vocal commands.
His famous mauling before a live audience in Detroit at the hands of a randy beast named Fred occurred when he was 25, an accident for which Zerbini accepts responsibility. But two days later, Zerbini was back in the ring, still in bandages. Following performances in the immediate aftermath, he would hook into his antibiotic IV drips to keep the infection from spreading.
Those weren't the only injuries, to be sure. Zerbini's head was in a lion's mouth during a show when a spectator's balloon popped. The startled animal clamped down and swung around to check it out.
“I ended up with a few stitches from that one, too,” recalls Zerbini, who still operates a circus out of Webb City, Mo. “There was a lot of blood, but the paramedics came and put alcohol over the wound and I was off again.”
Zerbini retired from animal acts 15 years ago. His advice to youngsters?
“I'd rather work with lions than tigers. Tigers are a lot more agile, and they'll figure out all the angles before they attack. A lion, if he's going to attack you, he ain't gonna think about it twice, he'll come right at you.
“Lions can't jump as high, and they're clumsy as hell. It's like they've got two left feet.”
READ MORE AT:http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20110114/BREAKING/110119868/2416/NEWS
INTERESTED?
“The Art of Entertaining the Public,” featuring 2011 Circus Ring of Fame inductees
WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: PAL Sailor Circus, 2075 Bahia Vista Street, Sarasota
Free. More information: 922-0838
RING OF FAME
Circus Ring of Fame induction, featuring Jean “Tarzan” Zerbini, bandmaster Charles Schlarbaum, promoter Ward Hall, and Andres, Alberto and Alfredo Atayde of Mexico's Circo Atayde Hermanos
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: St. Armands Circle
Free. More information: 922-0838

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