Family Knie: a Swiss tradition.

AuteurPolley, Samuel
Fonction Business: made in ch

The esteemed dynasty of family Knie has been consistently attracting visitors to the exciting circus performances in Switzerland for over 150 years. Their vibrantly artistic shows are complimented with a variety of impressive animals. Originally from Austria, they made Switzerland their home in a turbulent Europe. The Knie Kinderzoo, another popular attraction of the Knie family, based in Rapperswil, St. Gallen, has, for 50 years, given families the opportunity to get up close and personal with elephants, giraffes and countless other animals.

Franco Knie, the current head of the Knie family spoke to me about the history, traditions and continued success of an institution that continues to be relevant, despite the new technological world. Franco's enthusiasm for the circus and the Kinderzoo is infectious. As if out of the mouth of the . founder, Friedrich Knie, he delights in ' discussing the journey the family has taken and lights up when talking about the newest addition to the dynasty, the gorgeous baby elephant, Kalaya.

Friedrich Knie had given up everything to join a group of travelling performers and the girl he had fallen in love with, Wilma. He quickly fell out of love with Wilma, but became married to the entertainment industry. (He became wed to another woman, whom rumour suggests he had kidnapped from a convent) He then began sowing the seeds for a performing family that would be celebrated in Switzerland eight generations later.

Franco assures me that the passion for the circus from his children and grandchildren is still as strong as it was 200 years previously. "I grew up with the circus, it was magnificent, it was a dream!" Franco tells me. He never gave thought to leaving the circus for pastures knew, "Our parents didn't push us to stay in the circus business, but they didn't ask us if we wanted to do something else. It was normal to be with the circus". The next generations have the same passion as Franco and he is extremely pleased to see that his children and grandchildren have no ideas of leaving.

Fighting through war

Of course, with such a long history, the Knie Dynasty ran in to some troubles along the way. Knie's beginnings as a small touring arena, with a small stage with a rope rigged across it and a few benches for the audience, was vulnerable to changes in political circumstances. From the Napoleonic wars to WW2, the Knie family had to continue to adapt. The Napoleonic wars brought them to Switzerland for the first...

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