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The Sloane Collection, no. 5 - Houston Zookeeper Hans Nagel Breaks a Zebra

Story Sloane, III

Silent | c. 1920s

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  •  Zebra at the zoo 
  •  Hans Nagel attempts to place a saddle on the zebra 
  •  Saddle successfully placed on the zebra 
  •   Attempting to ride the zebra 
  •  Riding a zebra 
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Zookeeper Hans Nagel and his team take quite a ride as they saddle and break a zebra at Houston's Zoological Gardens. In 1922 Nagel was Houston's first zookeeper, hired by the city to care for the park's 40 animals. By 1925, the zoo's population had grown to 400 animals, and Nagel had advanced to director. Throughout his tenure, Nagel worked closely with the animals, training and performing with them in weekly demonstrations. Among his notable accomplishments, Nagel was awarded a gold medal by the city of Houston for his heroics in saving a visitor from being mauled by the zoo's Bengal tiger (see article in following tab). Nagel came to an untimely end himself in 1941, when he was shot on zoo property by a Houston Police officer over a "jurisdictional dispute," the details of which remain murky to this day.

This Story Appeared in the November 3, 1926 edition of Danville, Virginia's Newspaper, The Bee

HOUSTON, Tex.. Nov. 3.— (NEA)— Why go to India to look for trouble with wild Bengal tigers when you can find it right here In Texas?

That, at least, is what Bert Wilson thinks.

Wilson lives in Minox, N. D. He came to Houston to attend the national convention of park executives. With the other delegates, he went to Herman Park zoo here to have a look at El Tex, a beautifully striped feline from the Bengal jungles. In his pocket Wilson carried a live white rat. He was to go to a dinner party that evening, and planned to make the rat do tricks for the other guests. The house cat loves to chase mice, and apparently the tiger is just as keen on going after rats. When Wilson stepped into the tiger's cage, El Tex made a lunge for him. El Tex, either by smell or by some mysterious jungle sense, knew Wilson had a rat in his pocket. Tiger and man went to the floor together. Zookeeper Hans Nagel, outside the cage, drew his revolver and shot El Tex. saving Wilson's life and killing the tiger. Wilson, however, had to go to a hospital and have 39 stitches taken In his wounds. Now El Tex's skin, stuffed, will adorn a museum somewhere—probably the first Bengal tiger to be killed in Texas. The rat? It was dead, but it had not been harmed physically in the fight. "It died of fright." Wilson says.