Monday, July 12, 2010

Side-Show and Animal Tricks (Jumbo)


Here is a scan of the inside pages. You'll see it is a list of who was who in circus attractions at the time this was written. The mention that caught my attention was of Jumbo the elephant. Jumbo was P.T. Barnum's prize creature. Jumbo had already traveled a lot- starting in Mali, then going to Paris, and becoming a hit in London zoos before arriving in the states.

Jumbo was extremely popular in life, but in death his story took several bizarre turns. He died after being hit by a train, and from what I've read, why the train hit him depended upon who you asked at the time. Barnum swore Jumbo protected a baby elephant. Others said he charged the train in anger. There are also stories that suggested Jumbo was drunk at the time! You can read eyewitness accounts via this article in Tufts Magazine.

Jumbo's story did not end after he died. Barnum, always quick to take advantage of a situation, had him stuffed and put on display at the Tufts museum. What happened next was the subject of a recent short documentary that was also a tribute to the filmmaker Chelsea Spear's father. You can read more about her work on the project via this article.

Below is the doc, titled, Jumbo in a Jar.

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