Elephant Story

Jumbo and P.T. Barnum Under the Big Top


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About the Book

The newspapers called him “Overshadowing Monarch Mastodon,” “Behemoth of Holy Writ” and “Prodigious Mountain.” He was the main event at the greatest show on earth: Jumbo, at around 6-1/2 tons and almost 12 feet tall, the biggest elephant anyone had ever seen. Jumbo’s mere presence in the Barnum, Bailey and Hutchinson circus guaranteed an additional $3,000 a day in box office receipts. More of an exhibit than a performer, Jumbo was simply paraded around the three rings. But still the people came, just to marvel at the size of this monster pachyderm.
This work traces Jumbo’s capture in East Africa, his life in the London Zoo, the controversy over his sale for $10,000 to American showman P.T. Barnum, his journey across the Atlantic, his life as the most famous attraction in Barnum’s circus, and his tragic death in a railway accident in Canada in 1885.

About the Author(s)

Les Harding, a former academic librarian, has written numerous articles and book reviews and more than a dozen books. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Les Harding
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 135
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2000
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0632-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Chapter 1: The Day Jumbo Died 3
Chapter 2: Captured 12
Chapter 3: A New Home for Jumbo 16
Chapter 4: All in a Day’s Work 25
Chapter 5: Jumbo Gets Difficult 35
Chapter 6: Jumbo, Don’t Go 41
Chapter 7: Arrival in New York 62
Chapter 8: The World’s Greatest Showman 69
Chapter 9: Elephants and Circuses 81
Chapter 10: Jumbo on Parade 93
Chapter 11: Gone But Not Forgotten 98
Appendix 1: Excerpts from the Route Books
of P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth 103
Appendix 2: Famous Elephants 105
Appendix 3: How Big Was Jumbo? 113
Notes 115
Bibliography 123
Index 127

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Provides the details of the life and death of Barnum’s 12-foot-tall attraction…offers background on Barnum’s life, the history of elephants in circuses, and a list of other famous elephants”—C&RL News.