Durovs – famous circus dynasty
Durov is a famous surname in the history of Russia. The representatives of this dynasty are famous actors and circus performers. Nadezhda Durova, the heroine of the war of 1812, the legendary cavalry-girl, is among the ancestors of the glorious dynasty. She was Kutuzov’s adjutant during the Patriotic War. After the war she was actively engaged in charity and even turned her house into a small menagerie. Nadezhda took the abandoned and sick animals that she met on her way. Her descendants were fond of animals too.
For many years Vladimir Durov’s name was on the hoardings of Russia and many other countries, for he was a popular circus performer whose bold wit always drew applause and laughter. He used to call himself a clown, or jester, but in fact he was a deep thinker, an accomplished musician and sculptor, and the author of many interesting books for children. He had an immense knowledge of animal psychology and wrote a number of serious works on the subject which won wide acclaim from scientists abroad.
As a boy young Vladimir liked to teach tricks to dogs, horses and pigeons — always by kindness and encouragement, never by force. This was his method with his first actors — a goose, a goat, and his dog Bishka — and it was a method he stuck to throughout life.
He trained as a teacher, but preferred animals as pupils. He had an inquisitive mind and a vast capacity for research. On his own he studied biology, physiology and works on the activity of the higher nervous system.
Vladimir Durov dreamed of building a special house for his animals, in which they could live in conditions that would be suitable for each one. In 1908 he bought a house, re-constructed it, and four years later opened it as “Durov’s Corner”. In 1919 it was equipped with a “practical laboratory in animal psychology”.
Vladimir Durov died in 1934 and his daughter Anna took over management of the house, and in 1938 she opened an animal theatre. It attracted a constant and extremely appreciative audience of children and adults. There were foxes, wolves, badgers, Himalayan and Siberian bears, raccoons, and even an armadillo, a survival of a long-distant past. There were also ordinary domestic animals, such as cats, dogs, goats, and pigs, and birds as well.
After Anna Durova’s death in 1977 Durov’s Corner was managed by her nephew Yuri Durov, after his death his daughter Natalia Durova took over management of the house. Since 2007 the artistic director of Grandfather Durov’s Corner is the great-grandson of Vladimir Durov – People’s Artist of Russia Yuri Durov.