Tuesday, October 24, 2006

From Dave Price

Bob and Richard did a good job on African elephants but there's one more from the mid-Twentieth Century who ought to be mentioned. I snapped this picture of little "Colonel" (of course named for Colonel Woodcock) during the 1957 Kelly-Miller Chevrolet promotion (see the Chevy blanket next to Colonel).
Colonel had been imported in late 1955 and died I believe in 1964. Today's readers are used to seeing African elephants but this was only the third I had ever seen, Sudan in 1943 and Emily/Abilee in 1950 being the first two.
By the way, Ringling's "Diamond" was originally called "Louie" after Louis Reed.


Anonymous said...

I was sure He died in Oceans Springs, Mississippi

Anonymous said...

Richard Reynolds says - - -

Thanks to you Dave for sharing this fine photo of “little” Colonel.

When Hagenbeck and others had their collecting operations in full swing in then animal rich Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and Sudan in the mid-19th century there were a lot of African bush elephants coming on the zoo and circus markets. Jumbo was one of them - -first to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris arriving there on 20 Feb 1863, then to London zoo on 24 June 1865 (in trade for an Indian rhino) and then to Barnum in 1882.

However, even before Jumbo, the Barnum show had Africans. **Clipper** (29 March 1879) tells us - -“ The Barnum show has imported 4 diminutive African elephants.” Sells Bros had even more. It ran an ad in **Clipper** (24 Dec. 1887) offering to sell - - "6 AFRICAN ELEPHANTS, three of which are very large, and all are fine specimens.”

In 1883 the nationalist Muslim, Muhammad Ahmad (“al-Mahdi”) led a savage uprising, expelling all “infidels” from the Sudan (sound familiar?) That put an end to the animal collecting operations in Sudan and neighboring Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Hagenbeck’s agents had used the Sudanese port on Suakin on the Red Sea to ship the animals. With all that out of commission, the importation of bush elephants virtually dried up because the colonization of elephant rich Kenya and Tanganyika (Tanzania) was yet to happen, and resulting animal collecting operations were not running there, at least not to the extent they later enjoyed.

Later we started getting forest elephants out of the Belgian Congo elephant operation. It was much easier to go to the Belgian training station at Gangala-na-bodio and pick out what you wanted than to try to run down wild bush elephants in the east. That, in turn was replaced by the more modern collecting operations of animal catchers working out of Kenya and Tanganyika (Tanzania). This got into full swing in the 1950s. The director of Basel Zoo, E. Lang, wrote a fine paper about that, published in the **Journal of the Elephant Managers Association.** In 1952, he brought to Basel from Tanzania the first bush elephants to arrive in Europe after W.W.II. It is from that point forward that we began to see lots of African elephants coming to American zoos and circuses, e.g. Colonel and Diamond (nee Louie). One of the Basel animals was still living there at last account and had set the all time longevity record for an African elephant in captivity - -now at 54 years

Of course, a lot of old time bull men did not like Africans, holding that they were stupid, could not be made to perform etc. I do not think it was as much a matter of intelligence as it was that Africans are vastly different in temperament from Asians What would work with Asians would not with Africans. And there is a difference in dietary requirements. We now know a lot more about Africans than previously. The late elephant man Alan Campbell, told me he thought Africans were actually smarter than Asians. Ironically, he was killed by an African in Hawaii.