Jumbo the Elephant - The Barnum Museum

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Jumbo the Elephant: The Life and Legacy of History's Most Famous Circus Animal

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  • Barnum's partner Hutchinson did not want to buy Jumbo. "What difference does it make if an elephant is seven feet high or eleven or twelve feet high? An elephant is an elephant!" he said. But Barnum wanted Jumbo more than he wanted any other elephant in the world because Jumbo was the elephant in the world. Bartlett and the London Zoological Society took only two days to decide that Jumbo would be sold to Barnum.

    In 1882, Jumbo was the biggest elephant living in captivity. Bartlett thought it best to find a new home for Jumbo for two reasons. First, he thought Jumbo was about to enter . This is a difficult time in a male elephant's life. Certain glands in the elephant's head become inflamed causing the animal to behave violently. The other reason Bartlett wanted to move Jumbo was the elephant's close relationship with Scotty. Bartlett thought Jumbo might go on a dangerous rampage if Scotty should die.

  • In Victorian England, one of the great attractions at the London Zoo was Jumbo the elephant. Jumbo seemed sweet and friendly. He ate the sugared buns people pushed through his cage. He gave children rides on his back, including young Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt. But when he came to sexual maturity, and became more difficult to control, the zoo decided to sell him to P.T. Barnum, and Jumbo became part of a circus act in the United States. There have been plays and films made based on the life of this stalwart elephant – including a musical with Doris Day. Walt Disney used Jumbo as a template for his cartoon, Dumbo. Author John Sutherland has traced the elephant’s eventful life, which ended in 1885, here in southern Ontario. Our conversation has been edited for length.

    In Victorian England, one of the great attractions at the London Zoo was Jumbo the elephant. Jumbo seemed sweet and friendly. He ate the sugared buns people pushed through his cage. He gave children rides on his back, including young Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt. But when he came to sexual maturity, and became more difficult to control, the zoo decided to sell him to P.T. Barnum, and Jumbo became part of a circus act in the United States. There have been plays and films made based on the life of this stalwart elephant – including a musical with Doris Day. Walt Disney used Jumbo as a template for his cartoon, Dumbo. Author John Sutherland has traced the elephant’s eventful life, which ended in 1885, here in southern Ontario. Our conversation has been edited for length.

  • Jumbo the elephant was ordered to pack her trunk and leave yesterday, after Dunedin City Council officials deemed the four-tonne African elephant to be squatting illegally on a council reserve.

JUMBO THE ELEPHANT'S LAST PHOTO

Two excellent books about Jumbo can be found on the Internet for $5-10 each. Both were originally published in England. “Jumbo,” by W.P. Jolly, is copyrighted 1976. “Jumbo The Greatest Elephant in the World,” by Paul Chambers, is copyrighted 2008.