Circus owner Gerry Cottle has died aged 75 after contracting coronavirus, his agent has said.
He found fame in the 1970s with his touring Gerry Cottle Circus and also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus in Britain.
His agent Mark Borkowski said he was “the last of the great circus showmen”.
Cottle, who died in hospital in Bath earlier this week, retired from the circus in 2003 and bought the Somerset tourist attraction, Wookey Hole.
Mr Borkowski says in a statement: “Gerry was a loving family man who is survived by his wife Betty and three daughters and a son, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”
He added that he would “never forget all the mad adventures we shared”.
At 15-years-old, Cottle ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circus.
He had planned to enter the circus from the age of eight after seeing a performance in Earl’s Court, London. His first show was performed in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, in the summer of 1970. It had just five performers, including himself. In 2020 he told The Telegraph it had been a “terrible show” which took no money and closed down.
Later in his career Cottle helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990s.
He retired from the circus in 2003 and bought Wookey Hole, a museum and amusement attraction in Somerset.
Pictured: Archive image of Gerry Cottle (Photo by Giffords Circus)