Thursday, July 21, 2005

Barnum & Bailey/ Mooney's musical elephants

In 1917 the Barnum Show carried 18 Asian elephants, four of which were males. Two tuskers "Pilate" and "Mighty" and two that had no ivory at all "Albert" and "Coco".
To the uninformed, P.T. Barnum and James A. Bailey were long since dead by this time and the show was owned by the Ringling Brothers. Two years later both shows and titles were merged and the 1919 show carried 36 elephants adding three more tuskless males "Sammy", "Rio" and "John". This phenomenon is not all that unusual but I have read that tuskless males in the jungle will instinctly become more ferocious in order to compete with tuskers.
My dad was on the show in 1920 taking care of two camels named "Victor" and "Rosie" and added that the only tusker at that time was "Mighty" and he had knobs on the end of his tusks but for some reason they were flat like door knobs. He also mentioned that when the elephant men mounted up to ride to the train the Ringling elephants raised them up with their trunks and the Barnum elephants used their left front foot.


Larry said...


Thanks for letting us post comments again. I came to the Internete yesterday but the comments button was missing. Did the tree huggers from Peta try to shut this site down? Those tree huggers have no life. I do love the pictures. Keep up the good work. My father was a show men for years and I grew up on Barnum and Bailey as free hand. My best memories are with the circus.
Thank you for the memories.

Billy said...


Those look like African elephants. Just look at the ears? There too large to be Asian elephants. Are you sure those elephants are Asian elephants?

Walter Adams from TX said...

Billy, Those are not African Elephants. African elephants are much to moody to be trained. Your right African elephants have larger ears but I don't see any large ears on those pictures.

Billy said...

Walter Adams,

You might want to visit an eye doctor if you think those are Asian elephants. Those elephants are African. I have spent 15 year as a zoo keeper no circus folk/showmen is going to tell me the difference between African elephants and Asian. As showmen you may perform tricks with animals but you do the little things, like groom and feed the animals daily. You don't really understand how and the animal feels and thinks.

rebecca said...

Where did this nut come from? Where is he seeing Africian Elephants. He worked at a Zoo? God help us all and especially the animals if he has convenced himself he knows elephants. Please show this poor man what an Africian Elephant looks like. When I was on To Tell The Truth many years ago. Johnny Carson was the only one to guess me and the question was What elephant did the circus use the most., African or Asian? I had to tell the truth and say Asian.

Frank from MN said...

Well said Rebecca, I think the zoo keeper spent to many days with the monkies. I don't he would last day on RBBB back in the day.

greg said...

those are all asian elephants and i have never worked at a zoo or a circus.

Little John said...

A great reference to avoid the continental confusion in pachyderm placement is the 1932 movie with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan “Tarzan the Ape Man.” The 1934 sequel “Tarzan His Mate” is even better. In the natural scenes with Maureen you can see the black and blue marks that “Timba?” gave her during filming.
Concerning the Indian/Asian whatever musical elephants that our Captain has shared with us, by their size in 1917 they look like young teenagers, and if some are males we all must know what that means.

Ryan Easley said...

Where did Coco come from and what became of him?