Thursday 24 April 2014

Jumbo the Elephant Monument, St. Thomas, ON

While I was in St. Thomas today, I checked out the Jumbo the Elephant monument.

Jumbo (1861 – September 15, 1885) was a 19th-century male African bush elephant born in the French Sudan (present-day Mali).   He was eventually exported to a zoo in Paris, France, and then transferred in 1865 to London Zoo in England. Jumbo was sold to P. T. Barnum, who took him to America for exhibition in March 1882.

On September 15, 1885, P.T. Barnum brought his circus to St. Thomas and its biggest draw was Jumbo the Elephant. Promoted as "Lord of Beasts", Jumbo was the largest elephant (his height, estimated to be 10.7 ft in the London Zoo, was claimed to be approximately 13.1 ft by the time of his death) ever to be shown to the public and had been a star attraction for 15 years.

After the show, Jumbo was being led back to his private boxcar by his keeper, Scott.  Meanwhile a train flagman left his post to get a better view of Jumbo. That fateful move cost Jumbo his life as an unscheduled train came into the yard unaware that a huge elephant was on the tracks. Scott got Jumbo to run, hoping to have Jumbo run between two boxcars but it was too late.  Such a sad story :(

Jumbo was struck and killed and the train that struck him was turned over and derailed. Jumbo's skeleton is now in the Museum of Natural History. The hide was reconstructed, stuffed and preserved by P.T. Barnum and can be seen at the Barnum Museum at Tufts College, Medford, MA.

A life-size statue of the elephant was erected on Talbot Street in 1985 to commemorate the centennial of the elephant's death.

Jumbo and I

Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas brews Dead Elephant Ale, in recognition of Jumbo's connection to St. Thomas's railway history.  Gord likes this beer so I stopped off at the brewery and picked him up a dozen.  How often does one get to say that they have 12 dead elephants in the truck of their car?!

1 comment:

Masshole Mommy said...

Hmmm, I don't remember seeing that when I was there.