The Meanest Elephant
Formerly known as "Ned," this Tusko was a giant circus elephant captured at age 6 in Siam (now Thailand). He stood just five feet high when he was unloaded from a sailing ship at New York harbor in 1898.
By 1922 he was touted as "The Meanest Elephant" as well as "the largest elephant ever in captivity", though at 10-feet-2-inches tall (3.1 meters), he was seven inches shorter than Jumbo. Nonetheless, Tusko was a ton heavier than Jumbo and the largest elephant in North America since Jumbo. The tusks which earned him his name were about seven feet long (213 centimeters).
No other circus wanted Tusko and he spent some time in an exhibition road show, accompanied by his keeper and lifelong devotee, young George "Slim" Lewis. Tusko ended his days in the Seattle Zoo, dying of a blood clot on June 10, 1933.
The elephant on LSD
"Tusko" was also the name of a male Indian elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo. On August 3, 1962, researchers from the University of Oklahoma injected (human use involves oral ingestion) 297 mg of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) to him, which is over 1,000 times the dose typical of human recreational use. Within five minutes he collapsed to the ground and one hour and forty minutes later he died. It is believed that the LSD was the cause of his death, although some speculate that the drugs the researchers used in an attempt to revive him may have contributed to his death.
Portland, Oregon Zoo
Tusko arrived at the Oregon Zoo in June 2005 on a breeding loan. He has successfully sired three calves in the past; two while living in Canada and one in California. Tusko has also successfully mated with Rose-Tu, the youngest elephant in the herd at the time. On August 23, 2008, she delivered her first offspring, a male named Samudra and nicknamed Sam. Sam is also the first third-generation elephant born in the United States. Zoo officials have stated that they were very lucky to find a bull like Tusko. He has been a good match for the herd, providing genetic diversity as well as great social skills, experience with calves, a gentle nature with the females and positive role model for Samudra.
She and Tusko again mated successfully in 2011 and her second calf, a female named Lily, was born on November 30, 2012. A controversy was sparked when the Seattle Times reported that the new baby would become the property of Perris-based Have Trunk Will Travel, a company which offers elephant rides at fairs, zoos and weddings. Zoo officials explained that although the breeding contract states that the zoo owns the first, third and fifth of Tusko's offspring, while the California company owns the second, fourth and sixth baby elephant, there are no plans to ship the elephant to California. The plan has always been for Rose-Tu and her baby to stay together their whole lives as they would in the wild; however, the legal details of the arrangement cannot be negotiated before the elephant is one-month old.
Currently, there are plans for Tusko to also mate with the zoo's other two females, Shine and Chendra.
Tusko recently underwent two surgeries to have his tusks removed due to infection. He is blind in his right eye.
- HistoryLink Tusko the elephant rampages through Sedro-Woolley on May 15, 1922
- http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/lotus_isle.html Image of "Ten-ton, 12-foot Tusko the Elephant with his owner, Al Painter"
- "Death Takes Tusko, Big Elephant That Lived Stormy Life". Chicago Tribune. June 11, 1933. Retrieved 2010-10-16. "Tusko one of the largest and most publicized elephants In captivity survived hundreds of death threats and other perils brought on by his temper ament only ..."
- "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: Its Effects on a Male Asiatic Elephant", by Louis Jolyon West, Chester M. Pierce, and Warren D. Thomas, Science Magazine, December 7, 1962, pp1100-1102
- http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/research/story/0,9865,770756,00.html A dose of madness in The Guardian UK
- West, LJ, Pierce, CM, & Thomas, WD. (1962). "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide: Its Effects on a Male Asiatic Elephant." Science. 138(3545): 1100-1103
- Boese, A. (2007). Elephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre Experiments. Harcourt.
- "Rose-Tu's baby and the Oregon Zoo: FAQ". Oregon Zoo. 4 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
- Muldoon, Katy (20 Oct 2011). "Oregon Zoo: Asian elephant Rose-Tu is pregnant". The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications). Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
- Berens, Michael J. (3 Dec 2012). "Portland's baby elephant belongs to traveling show". Seattle Times (Seattle, Washington: The Seattle Times Company). Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
- Craig, Paul (4 Dec 2012). "California company: 'No intention' of taking baby elephant". Fox 12 Oregon. KPTV. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.