Interesting Chapter on circus elephants.
An enterprising menagerie proprietor, in New York, has just published an interesting history of all the famous elephants who have exhibited in this country.
The names of the animals will bring up a great many pleasant recollections of those days when "going to the circus" was an event to be remembered; when a gentleman in a suit of tights and spangles was an object of the warmest admiration; and when the man who controlled the huge elephant of the procession was looked upon with as much interest as a corps commander is now. We make the following extracts from the showman's account:
The first elephant ever brought to this country was a female called Betsey, familiarly known to the public as "Old Bet." She was shot near Alfred, in Maine
, while traveling, by some rustic ruffians, out of sheer wantonness.
The next one was also called Betsey, and by a singular coincidence she met her death in a similar manner near Woonsocket, Rhode Island
In the latter case, some of the parties concerned in the outrage were discovered, and made to pay dearly for their amusement.
Old Rom was one of the largest elephants ever brought to this country, and was of a different breed from any other that has been here, his tusks being but a few inches in length.
He was one of the most vicious animals ever known, and was apparently unconquerable — He died at Somerstown in '34 or '35, chained to a tree, from an overdose of pitchfork, the necessity for applications of which will presently be shown Tippoo Sultan was another famous elephant of those days.
He was an animal of fine appearance, and very well trained, and well known throughout the country.
He was at the building of the old Zoological Institute in the Bowery during the winters of '36 and '37, whence he went to the West Indies
While there, he went into a pond for a bath one day, and, refusing to leave it, several balls were fired into him by way of persuasion, from the effects of which he died.
Mad'lle D'jek, the heroine of Charles Reade
's "lack-of-all-Trades," was here about 1834, and played at both the Park
and Bowery Theatres, after which she went to Philadelphia
She was in charge of an East Indian native keeper.
While in this city, she got loose one night and went through the Bowery
and Chatham streets, pumping water from the pumps which then stood in those localities, and wrenching on the handles after she had satisfied her thirst.
She also made sad havoc with the awning posts, and raised the mischief generally.
, her performances created quite an excitement.
A warm competition sprung up between the management of the Chestnut and the Arch-Street
Theatres as to which should have her services, both houses claiming that she was under engagement; and a caricature was issued representing the rival managers struggling for her possession, one having her by the trunk and the other by the tail, both pulling away for dear life.
Stam was a large and very powerful animal that came to this country about 29.
He was on very good terms with mankind, but was extremely quarrelsome with his fellow-beasts He has been known to knock the huge elephant Columbus
as completely off his feet as ever a man was knocked over by a club.
In the spring of '40, a rhinoceros got loose from his cage in the old menagerie building in the Bowery, and, in endeavoring to make his escape, ran within reach of Stam, who with two blows of his immense tusks, laid him dead at his feet, with his whole side crushed in died in Zanesville, Ohio
, from being chilled while standing out of doors in a heavy storm.
Mogul was a fine, large elephant, that traveled one or two years in the Eastern States
He was on board the Royal Tar
, which was burned in the bay of Fundy many years ago, and, in company with a small penny, went overboard and endeavored to swim ashore, but himself and his diminutive companion were both drowned.
Queen Anne was an elephant very well known in the Southern States
, where she traveled for many years.
At Zanesville, Ohio
, one cold morning, her attendant allowed her to drink a barrel of ice-cold water, and that was the last of Queen Anne.
was a well-known elephant.
He was presented to some English notability by an Indian prince, and placed in the menagerie which until recently, was kept in the Tower of London
, where he was purchased when very small, and brought to this country.
Afterward he went to England
again with Mr. Van Amburgh
, was exhibited in his menagerie throughout Great Britain
, and then played star engagements at theatres in London
and the principal provincial towns, appearing in a drama written expressly to display his accomplishments.
He returned to the United States
with Mr. Van Amburgh
in '45, and subsequently traveled in all parts of the Union
He died down South
from a chill received while swimming a river.
were four enormous elephants that were once driven through the streets of New York attached to a band carriage.
were drowned while endeavoring to swim the Delaware
at Camden, New Jersey
They were chained together at the time.
fell through a bridge as North Adams, Massachusetts
, and injured his so badly that he died in a few days.
, the largest elephant that has ever been in this country or Europe
, and probably one of the largest that has ever lived, is now at the menagerie buildings in Broadway
. --Although about seventy years of age, it is thought that he is still growing, and it is certain that he is in the enjoyment of a most excellent appetite.
estimates that it has cost over $50,000 to feed Hannibal
since he arrived in this country in 1824.
Tippoo Saib is a large and exceedingly well-trained elephant, and is also now included in the collection of Van Amburgh
& Co. He is the "heavy man" among the artists of the menagerie company.
There have been many other elephants in the country at various times, but those mentioned above are the once that have acquired the greatest notoriety.
Method of Treating elephants.
Female elephants are generally, if not invariably, gentle and docile, and may be managed by any one.
There may have been exceptions to this rule, as elephants, like human beings, differ in their dispositions, but such exceptions have not been known to occur in this country.
The full-grown male
elephant, however, is an animal that requires constant watching, and, above all, a fearless keeper.
No man can occupy that position with any safety until he has acquired a complete mastery over the animal that he takes in charge, and the latter must be made to understand that the slightest hesitation in obeying the commands of his master will be met with immediate and severe punishment.
The elephant can only be ruled by fear; when thoroughly subdued, he is the most obedient of servants.
In some cases an elephant will acknowledge a new keeper without difficulty or protest; at other times a contest is necessary before be will submit, and this is generally the case with old ones.
has had charge of Tippoo Saib for seven years. The second summer that he traveled with him, Tippoo rebelled for the first time.
He struck at Nash
while be was practicing the animal in the tent, there being no audience present.
made the brute lie down, chained his legs together so that he could not get up again, and then put the cold steel into him. Tippoo was obstinate, but so was Nash
, and the animal, finding that he must either give up or be killed, finally "begged," and has been upon his good behavior ever since.
Sometimes it is the work of days to bring on elephant to submission.
If he is loose, it is necessary to "hobble" and throw him as a preliminary proceeding, a task which it may take twenty men hours to accomplish.
Once down, he is speared and pitchfork until the blood runs from every part of his body, and this is kept up without cessation until endurance is exhausted and he announces his submission, which he does by a peculiar whistle through his trunk, followed by bellowing — an elephant's method of crying "enough"--when he is released; and whoever takes him in charge at that moment he will obey as his master, and other.
In this matter the elephant always acts most honorably.--No matter how violent he may have been, the instant he "begs" he may safely be released from his chains, and no instance has ever been known of an elephant violating his parole given under circumstances.
At some future period he may rebel again, but for the time his word may be deported upon.
Traits and disposition of the elephant.
Very little, if any, affection exists in the elephant toward his keeper.
That disreputable quadruped, Old Hannibal, has indeed been known to indulge in frantic demonstrations of delight at the approach of a former keeper, whom he had not seen for many months, while, on the other hand, Tippoo Saib, who is one of the best behaved of his race, last winter refused to bestow the slightest recognition upon one of his former keepers, who had him in charge for years.
When an elephant rebels, his keeper is the first man that he tries to kill.
had charge of Bolivar
for nine years and a half, during all of which time he was under the most complete subjection, but one day the old fellow turned on him with such fury that he barely escaped with his life.
They are generally fond of the companionship of a dog, and will submit to any quantity of insolence from one of that species after the latter has gained a footing in their good graces.
There was a celebrated dog, called "Turk
," that traveled for many years with Bolivar
, and exercised a complete control over that huge creature.
made his attack upon Langworthy
" rushed undauntedly to the rescue, and kept his attention employed until enough men were got together to overpower the elephant.
There has never been an instance known in this country of an elephant injuring a stranger without provocation, unless in one of the fits of madness to which they are sometimes subject. --Their keepers may take them through the most dense crowds without the slightest danger to the throng.
If they are insulted, however, they will resent it Last summer, while Van Amburgh
's establishment was making a procession through the streets of Boston
, a Hibernisn gentleman, a street sweeper by profession, amused himself by thrusting his broom into Tippoo Saib's month.
There was of the elephant's trunk, and the next instant there was an astonished Irishman sailing over the heads of the assembled multitude.
He was not seriously injured, however.
Elephants appear to have a special spite against showmen, and will strike a menagerie man whenever they can get an opportunity.
They will sometimes take a dislike to individuals.
While Van Amburgh
was traveling in England
, there was a musician in the who was in the habit of amusing himself by paper balls in his trombone and blowing them out at Bolivar
He was frequently cautioned in regard to the habit, but persisted in it.
One day, Bolivar
happened to pass the band wagon while this individual was blowing away at his trombone, when, without the slightest ceremony, he reached into the vehicle with his trunk, pulled out the unfortunate musician, and hurled him a distance of twenty feet, breaking several of his ribs.
then made a charge for him, and would have finished him speedily had it not been for the interference of his keeper.
Elephants are subject from physical causes, at times, to fits of moroseness, sometimes increasing to frenzy, when they are very dangerous, unless properly secured.
Then they pay no regard to keeper or any one else.
It was during one of these fits of madness that Hannibal
made his celebrated raid on the road between Pawtucket
and Pall river in 1854, when he escaped from his keeper and ran nine miles, destroying everything in his way. These fits can generally be foreseen and guarded against.
Elephants do not like tobacco, but the stories told, and generally believed, in regard to their visiting, with dire vengeance, any one who should offer them the weed, are all stuff.
Indeed, there was an elephant here some years ago, called Poodah, that would eat paper after paper of fine-cut with the greatest apparent relish.
Generally, however, they eschew it. But they all like ram. Every elephant seems to have a natural taste for whiskey, or any intoxicating drink.
, when he was in the Tower of London
, and quite small, was made drunk one day upon highly- sweetened grog, and his antics were said to be indescribably comical.
He always was a regular toper whenever he could procure the material.
On one occasion, after he had come to mature years, he broke into a brewery, ate the malt, got gloriously fuddled on ale, and finished by smashing up things generally.
That spree cost Mr. Van Amburgh
a very heavy sum in the way of damages.
Elephants are extremely timid in regard to rats and mice.
A rat running through the straw bedding of Old Hannibal will cause that immense beast to trumpet in the wildest terror.
They sometimes object to their keepers changing horses.
The keeper, when traveling on the road usually rides on horseback.
The elephant becomes accustomed to the company of a particular horse, and well-conducted elephants have been known to turn upon their keepers when they appeared with a new mount.
They are extremely jealous in regard to any assumption of authority, or any undue familiarity on the part of any one except the regularly-acknowledged keeper.
This accounts for their antipathy against showmen.
They are very fond of flowers.
If an elephant gets loose in the night, he is tolerably sure to make for the nicest flower-garden in the vicinity, and he is certain to leave unmistakable traces of his visit.
Flowers form his favorite salad.
A nice orchard of young fruit trees is a great temptation to an elephant.--They are all fond of slipping their fastenings, when it is practicable, and starting off on a foraging expedition — a trait which has led to some very funny occurrences.
Queen Anne got loose once in Missouri
, and, making her way into the woods, defiled all efforts to capture her for several weeks.
She was finally run down by a party on horse-back, organized for the purpose.
When retaken, she had become quite wild and unmanageable, but was soon civilized by the usual process.
An elephant in love.
A number of years ago, two menageries were laid up for the winter in a store-house on the bank of the canal at Pittsburg
, for the first time, was thrown into the society of Queen Anne.
They were fastened side by side, and an immediate attachment sprang up between them.
It was a case of love at first sight, for the moment Queen Anne was brought into Hannibal
's presence, she run her trunk into his mouth — the elephantine style of kissing.
All winter long they were continually caressing each other, and their demonstrations of mutual affection were really extraordinary.
In the spring, Queen Anne was taken away to start upon her annual tour.
The rage of Hannibal
at this separation was terrific; for eleven days he refused to touch a morsel of food, the only nourishment that he received during that time bring whiskey and water.
By dint of a continual swaying or surging against his fastening, he succeeded in breaking loose on the