Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"Circus Magazine" #6

Scan10849, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.


Mike Naughton said...

This dealer was located in Paul Guthiel's ancestral neighborhood, The Grand Concourse.
Paul -- this is approximately near Bainbridge Avenue.

The dealer is very close to The Bronx Zoo

I lived about 20 minutes away -- Paul lived in the hoity-toity neighborhood, The Grand Concourse was the epitome of status, really.

wink, paul

Anonymous said...

Animal dealer Ellis S. Joseph (c. 1872 – 1938) got into the business at age 18 around 1890. He is probably best known for bringing Australian animals to America, including some of the most difficult of all to maintain, notably the koala and duck billed platypus.

In 1920 he brought to the Bronx zoo the first koala ever seen alive in continental America. Alas it lived only 5 days. It absolutely must have eucalyptus leaves to survive. Though Joseph had left Australia with a good supply, it was exhausted during the terribly long journey. Bronx zoo had no access to eucalyptus so the poor animal succumbed.

As most know, koalas now thrive in the San Diego zoo because the eucalyptus trees are right there in their enclosures. And many of the San Diego animals have been sent on loans to zoos all around the country and abroad. Nowadays the leaves can simply be flown in - -but such was beyond imagining in 1920 when Joseph delivered his animal to the Bronx.

I said above “continental” America because in 1916 Joseph brought two koalas to Honolulu for a Mr. Trent who had a small private zoo of sorts.

In 1916 Joseph also delivered a young African elephant to Honolulu’s Kapiolani Park Zoo, the first elephant housed there. Named Miss Daisy, she was a fixture until March 1933 when she went of a rampage. She killed her keeper George Conradt and got loose. She was gunned down by soldiers from an Army base.

The ship that brought Joseph’s 1916 shipment to Honolulu also included two Tasmanian Thylacines or Tasmanian wolves, a carnivorous kangaroo if you like. They were Joseph’s first ones and seem to have been headed for a zoo in mainland America.

The thylacine is an animal that, from all we can tell, became extinct when the last one died in the Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, Tasmania in September 1936.

Then in 1922 Joseph arrived in New York with a living platypus - -first ever in America. This is just about the weirdest of all animals, an aquatic mammal whose mother lays eggs from which the young are hatched like a bird but which are then nourished by milk from the mother’s mammary glands. They are very difficult to keep and Joseph’s platypus lived at the Bronx zoo for only 47 days.

The Bronx got more platypuses in 1947 and they did quite well, two of them living for more than 10 years. I was lucky to see them myself in 1947. More were acquired by Bronx in 1958 but they did not live long. The Bronx zoo has had the only platypuses ever seen alive in America.

In 1923 Ellis Joseph made New York his headquarters and in 1927 he moved to the Bronx where, for a time, he maintained a menagerie at Conner Street and Haller Avenue. He was unmarried and retired from business in 1933.

Anonymous said...

Good heavens, I hadn't heard the name Ellis Joseph in years. The old-timers around me used to speak of him.

Liz said...

Ellis S Joseph gave an interview to an Australian Newspaper in 1910.

He was actually born in Bombay (Mumbai) in India. His parents were Welsh and moved with him to San Francisco when he was just nine months old. According to Joseph himself he ventured into full time animal dealing at the age of 17.

He was responsible for bringing the first male chimpanzee into Australia and into New Zealand as well. I've just done a write up on the Chimpanzee named 'Casey' who died in Tampa Florida in January 1917. Joseph also supplied a second chimpanzee also named 'Casey' to the Taronga Park Zoo in 1920 along with a male Orangutan. The second Casey died at the zoo in 1936. Joseph trapped a multitude of species and amongst his clients he included Carl Hagenbeck's Hamburg Zoo. Hope that helps