|Jumbo The Circus Elephant|
Jumbo The Circus Elephant
|Species||African bush elephant|
|Died||September 15, 1885
St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Zoo and circus attraction|
|Years active||1861–1885 in captivity|
|Owner||in life Jardin des Plantes, London Zoo, and P. T. Barnum|
|Height||13 ft 1 in (4 m) as promoted by Barnum|
Jumbo (1861 – September 15, 1885), also known as Jumbo the Elephant and Jumbo the Circus Elephant, was a 19th-century male African Bush Elephant born in the French Sudan (present-day Mali). Jumbo was eventually exported to a zoo in Paris, France; and then transferred in 1865 to London Zoo in England. In November 1881, Jumbo was sold for $10,000 USD to P. T. Barnum, who took him to America for exhibition in March 1882.
The giant elephant's name has spawned the common word, "jumbo", meaning large in size. Jumbo's height, estimated to be 3.25 metres (10.7 ft) in the London Zoo, was claimed to be approximately 4 metres (13.1 ft) by the time of his death.
Jumbo was born in 1861 in the French Sudan, whence he was imported to France and kept in the old zoo Jardin des Plantes in Paris. In 1865 he was transferred to the London Zoo, where he became famous for giving rides to visitors, especially children. The London zookeeper association leader Anoshan Anathajeyasri gave Jumbo his name; it is likely a variation of one of two Swahili words: jambo, which means "hello" or jumbe, which means "chief".
Jumbo was sold in 1881 to the Barnum & Bailey Circus for 10,000 dollars ($238 thousand today). There was popular objection when Barnum's proposal became known; 100,000 school children wrote to Queen Victoria begging her not to sell the elephant. (The Elephant War (1960) by Gillian Avery is a historical novel featuring the protest movement based in Oxford.) In New York, Barnum exhibited the elephant at Madison Square Garden, earning enough from the enormous crowds to recoup the money he spent to buy the animal. In May 1884, Jumbo was one of the 21 elephants of P.T. Barnum that crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in order to prove that the bridge was safe after 12 people died on the bridge a year earlier on Memorial Day May 31, 1883 during a stampede.
Remaining in the United Kingdom were statues and other memorabilia of Jumbo. The elephant – or rather its statuette in the Natural History Museum – was made holotype of Richard Lydekker's proposed subspecies (Loxodonta africana rothschildi) for the large elephants of the eastern Sahel. Modern authorities do not recognize this (or any other subspecies of African Bush Elephants), considering its purportedly diagnostic large size and peculiarly-shaped ears to be individual variation.
Jumbo died at a railway classification yard in Canada at St. Thomas, Ontario, where he was hit and fatally wounded by a locomotive. Barnum told the story that he died saving a young circus elephant, Tom Thumb, from being hit by the locomotive, but other witnesses did not support this.
Barnum's story says that the younger elephant, Tom Thumb, was on the railroad tracks. Jumbo was walking up to lead him to safety, but an unexpected locomotive hit Tom Thumb, killing him instantly. Because of this, the locomotive derailed and hit Jumbo, killing him too. According to newspaper accounts at the time, the freight train hit Jumbo directly, killing him, while the other elephant suffered a broken leg.
Ever the showman, Barnum had portions of his star attraction separated, the better to have multiple sites to which attract the curious. The skeleton was donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where it remains. The elephant's heart was sold to Cornell University. Jumbo's hide was stuffed by William J. Critchley and Carl Akeley, both of Ward's Natural Science, who stretched it during the mounting process to make Jumbo seem even larger; the mounted specimen traveled with Barnum's circus for a number of years. Barnum donated the stuffed Jumbo to Tufts University, where it was displayed at P.T. Barnum Hall for many years. The hide was destroyed in a fire in April 1975. Ashes from that fire, which are believed to contain the elephant's remains, are kept in a 14-ounce Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter jar in the office of the Tufts athletic director, while his taxidermied tail, removed during earlier renovations, resides in the holdings of the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives.
Jumbo's hide remained at Tufts University, where it was displayed at P.T. Barnum Hall for many years; a superstition held that dropping a coin into a nostril of the trunk would bring a good grade on an examination. Although the hide was destroyed, Jumbo remains the mascot of Tufts, and representations of elephants are featured prominently throughout its campus. In time the elephant's name came to be a household word, with "jumbo" meaning "very large".
A life-size statue of the elephant was erected in 1985 in St. Thomas to commemorate the centennial of the elephant's death. It is located on Talbot Street on the west side of the city. Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada brews "Dead Elephant Ale," an IPA, in recognition of Jumbo's connection to St. Thomas's railway history.
Jumbo has been lionized on a series of sheet music covers from roughly 1882-83. The great four color lithograph of Jumbo was created by the famous Alfred Concanen of England and was matched with the music title 'Why Part With Jumbo', a song by the great lion comique of the British music halls, G.H. Macdermott. It pictured the children visiting the zoo and riding, somewhat precariously, on Jumbo's back. The finest of multiple American lithographic music covers was done by John Bufford.
Canadian folk singer James Gordon wrote the song "Jumbo's Last Ride" which recounts the story of Jumbo's life and death. It is on his 1999 CD Pipe Street Dreams.
See also 
- The Greatest Show on Earth: A movie based on the story of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
- History of elephants in Europe
- List of historical elephants
- Jumbo is also mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses, in the "Cyclops" chapter: "Jumbo, the elephant, loves Alice, the elephant" (p. 319 in the 1922 first edition; p. 273 in the Hans Walter Gabler, Random House edition ).
- "Madison Square Garden I" on Ballpark.com
- Susan Wilson (Spring, 2002). "An Elephant's Tale". Tufts Magazine.
- "Jumbo's Death", The Globe, September 17, 1885, p. 1.
- Meredith, Martin (2009). Elephant Destiny: Biography of an Endangered Species in Africa. PublicAffairs. p. 117. ISBN 0786728388. Retrieved 16 January 2013. "A postmortem revealed his stomach to contain 'a hat-full' of English pennies, gold and silver coins, stones, a bunch of keys, lead seals from railway trucks, trinkets of metal and glass, screws, rivets, pieces of wire and a police whistle."
- [www.americanheritage.com/content/immolation-jumbo The Immolation Of Jumbo]", American Heritage, Vol. 26, Issue 6, October 1975.
- "The Immolation Of Jumbo", American Heritage, Vol. 26, Issue 6, October 1975.
- "Jumbo the Elephant, Tufts' Mascot". Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- "Jumbo". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
- Chambers, Paul. Jumbo: The Greatest Elephant in the World, Andre Deutsch, 2007. ISBN 978-0-233-00222-4
- Harding, Les. Elephant Story: Jumbo and P.T. Barnum Under the Big Top. McFarland, 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0632-1
- Scott, Matthew. The autobiography of Matthew Scott and his biography of P.T. Barnum's great elephant Jumbo. 1885. ISBN 978-1-480-10798-4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jumbo|
- 1942 photo of the 'stuffed' Jumbo at the Barnum Museum
- Jumbo Images from the PT Barnum Collection at Tufts University
- The Story of Jumbo's Death
- Jumbo memorial in St. Thomas, ON, Canada
- Jumbo in typical trade card advertising.