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OCReef Originated From A Family Of Animal Lovers

Note: This information is shared with permission from the Circus Historical Society.

The below original content was written by the founder of It's about the OC Reef Aquatics owner's Uncle, on his fathers side of the family, whom he was named after. If you have the time to read it, then please enjoy!

Dave Hoover Lion Tamer

Dave Hoover, lion trainer, 09 Jul 2007 - This is in reply to an inquiry from Cynthia Keith [message No. 1690] and to other fans of my uncle, the late great Dave Hoover, World's Greatest Lion Tamer.

My Uncle Dave Hoover, passed away on Feb. 3, 2006 in De Land, Florida; his home of many years where he had acres of land for his lions and tigers to play and relax from months touring the country.

My thanks go out to Ms. Keith of the great state of Louisiana, which I'm proud to say is the city where I was born and raised. I would enjoy hearing how and what Ms. Keith, and any of you know of my Uncle Dave.

Dave Hoover was an awesome person with a God-given talent, leaving behind an amazing legacy of being one of the world's last and greatest pioneers in the industry. His true passion? His life of sharing with us the spectacular lion and tiger acts performed for over thirty years with the Clyde Beatty Cole Brothers Circus. There is so much I could write about Uncle Dave, but to keep a long story short, this is what I fondly remember:

As a child, my little ears perked up, and my eyes gleamed with excitement, as if it were Christmas, when my father, Steve Hoover, youngest of four brothers in a family of nine children, told me that "Uncle Dave" whom I was named after, was performing in our home town of New Orleans, Louisiana.

In his white jump suit, wearing a leather harness with a six shooter strapped to it, and bearing a small wooden chair and leather whip, he commanded lions & tigers to leap and soar through rings of flames. I attended many shows myself - the shows packed the circus big top stadium seats in towns all over the eastern portion of the United States, making him one of the two most notorious wild animal lion trainers/tamers in the world. He very quickly became my favorite Uncle and childhood idol.

It seems like just yesterday that Uncle Dave shared with us kids one of his funny stories. I can still picture him taking a huge cigar from his mouth to tell us this story. Uncle Dave, with his deep voice and distinct chuckle, explained how one of his "cats" was chosen to make a commercial for the Xerox Company. The cat was a male and was one of his finest and tamest. But on the set, this fine feline specimen had a wee bit of stage fright and sprayed all over the side of the brand new machine. The story made me laugh and gave me pop-up captions of what life must have been like in his shoes.

Unarguably, he was a man with a heart and soul of cast iron courage, to get into the ring with these sometimes unpredictable animals. A powerful yet passionate man that made a mark while fulfilling his childhood dream. Thus leaving us with his great attributes and being a true legend. His legacy will always live on in my heart, and I believe, in the hearts of others for generations to come. I guess the answer we have to ask ourselves is, could we command, much less gain respect from some of the toughest lion and tiger descendants passed down from Clyde Beatty's stock.

In closing my Uncle Dave Hoover will always be one of my favorite topics of conversation. If you have any further questions or information or are looking for material or pictures of Uncle Dave in action please don't hesitate to write me. My father is an even a better source of information, being born and raised with my Uncle Dave, and he's also more than happy to share stories with you.

Reply: 12 Jul 2007 - Hello All: During the 1970s I had the rare opportunity of interviewing Dave Hoover with Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus both in New England and in the East. I saw him on several lots. One was at the Lycoming Mall, Muncy, Pa. Dave was most gracious with his time and remarks. I took pictures of him in action and in the back yard. We discussed at length his association with his mentor Clyde Beatty. I watched him make his blanks for his pistol. We also discussed the Big One and his desire to have performed under Big Bertha. Some thing he never had the opportunity of doing as John Ringling North had taken the big show into concrete and steel buildings. I noted my seeing the Greatest Show On Earth in Erie, Pa. in 1951 and 1952. We both agreed that was the twilight of the big show under canvas. In closing, I saw his mentor in his animal act and putting his head into the mouth of a lion and the lights going out and then light up again and his head still in the cats mouth. The clapping cheers when he removed his head was loud and long. That was Clyde Beatty. To me interviewing Dave Hoover was a giant thrill in my long years of being a radio broadcast journalist. When people discuss the steel ring with all the exotic wild cats one of the true greats is and always will be Dave Hoover. Best, Craig Johnson, Lock Haven, Pa.

This permanent web page is dedicated to Uncle Dave Hoover... you are missed greatly.

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