Jumbo the Elephant

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Poster advertising Jumbo

Jumbo the Elephant was a famous elephant of the nineteenth century. Born in what is now Ethiopia in 1861, Jumbo was captured at an early age and sold to animal collector Johann Schmidt, who brought it to Europe and sold it to Jardin des Plantes in Paris, France, where it remained for three years. Sold to the London Zoo for health reasons, Jumbo soon became a favorite, where it was exhibited before massive and enthusiastic audiences.

In 1882, the American entrepreneur P.T. Barnum bought Jumbo and brought him (and his keeper, Mathew Scott) to America as part of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, again drawing large crowds everywhere he toured. However, Jumbo's life was cut short in September, 1885 when he was crossing a railroad track and was struck by an unscheduled freight train near St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. After death, Jumbo's carcass was stuffed and continued to tour with the circus until it was handed over to Tufts University for further study. The taxidermized body was completely destroyed in a fire in 1975.