Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ghost Zoo--Benson's Wild Animal Farm

This photo, date unknown is of Pinky Madison with Queen, Liz, and Ruth. I wonder if the 3 pictures below, dated 1935 are also of Queen, Liz, and Ruth. Queen and Liz's age was always in debate, and the year of their import has been placed from 1933 to 1935 I can't tell if that is Pinky Madison in the picture training them, or how long Pinky was employed at Benson's. Was Pinky the brother of Slivers Madison or how were they related.

The smallish ears on the elephant mounted on our left sure look like Queens "pixie" ears, as well as the odd shoulder structure. The humped back, and again deformed looking should on the elephant mounted on the right sure looks like Liz, as well as the weak back legs. Two of the sweetest elephants you would ever want to know, but when they came to Hawthorn, two of the most physically "corrupt" structured elephants you would ever find. Liz had a completely paralyzed trunk, and Queen had a half paralyzed trunk and could only "trunk up" by throwing her trunk in the air, and then standing with her mouth gaped open to hold it there. A lot of "Friends of Bensons Wild Animal Farm" have written some misinformed information on the internet about Hawthorn and the damage that Hawthorn did to these Benson's elephants before they moved to Tennessee. I am not defending Hawthorn by any means, just setting the record straight. Those wonderful girls, Queen and Liz were in tough shape physically when they arrived at Hawthorn, and pictures of them over the years suggests they were not good physical specimens from the day they were born.


Larry Records said...

I have a photo my father took of Queen, Liz & Ruth from 60 or 61 as babies @ Benson's. Q & L were 21 & 23 when I took over as trainer in 79. Both had screwed up trunks. The small African in the lake is Jackie. She was imported by Hunts. She started out tough but calmed down nicely and became a good freind and performer. What ever happened to her?

Larry Records

Wade G. Burck said...

Geez, how long has it been, my friend. Real good to hear from you. Liz and Queen were two sweet girls, but physically in tough shape for as long as I knew them. Liz had a real sunken head and a her back was real dipped off in the back and very skinny legs weak muscled legs. Queen the same except her back was humped and short. When I had the elephants I used to turn Liz loose to wander around the winter quarters. We always knew when it was 2:30 and time to get the other elephants in from the paddocks because Liz would stick her head in the tiger training barn and cause havoc, then walk into the elephant barn and get in her place and wait for her grain. :) Jackie was a great elephant also, as well as being exceptionally good looking. I in fact only knew her for three day's before she suddenly died. Jim Zijeck had her in a 4 act with Gyp, Ronnie and Joy(an african). He came into winter quarters on a Friday and turned the elephants out in the paddock for the day. I was looking at the elephants with Jim and commented on what a beauty that Jackie was. Thick, muscled well and with two heavy, perfectly matched tusks about 2 1/2 foot long. Each day Jim and I would look at the elephants and I would comment on how sharp that Jackie looked. On the third day, Larry as God is my witness, as we were looking at the elephants, all of a sudden Jackie keeled over on her side. Jim and I ran to her and when we got there she was stone cold dead. Bang, just like that. Because of all the TB nonsense and the ensuing troubles with USDA, vet's from the government flew in the next day and performed a necropsy all wearing suits, masks, air hoses, etc. the whole nine yards. Jim was pretty shook up and stayed away, but I helped through the whole necropsy as Hawthorn wanted a representative there, although I refused to wear the space suit(talk about drama queens). Tissue samples sent in came back negative with no sure cause of death, with the exception of a possible heart attack. Nothing else. We buried her the next day on the farm.(If you stand at the back door of the shop, and walk 110 yards straight ahead you will be standing on her remains.) I hate to be the messenger of bad news friend, but that is what became of prettiest, almost perfect African elephant I have ever seen.
When TES was wondering how to get Billie's leg chain off, I was going to put them in touch with Scott Moneypenny for a consultation. :)



Larry Records said...

I last saw Scott Moneypenny in early 80s when he visited Benson's. He said after leaving Hawthorn he joined the Marines. He said he figured it had to be easier than the circus.