Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Addendum to the letter in the following post.

Of course Ringling didn't buy the rhinos. At the time they had male black rhino "Bobby," named for Robert Bean of Brookfield Zoo where he was born in 1944. Bobby was only the second rhino ever born in USA.
However, Ringling did get a pair of blacks for 1955 as replacement for Bobby who died in 1953. They were the 7th and 8th of that species owned by Ringling since 1900. They also had a Sumatran and an Indian in the first three decades of the 20th century. In 1988 and again in 1990-91 Ringling had white rhinos.
It bears mentioning that in 1955 the Ringling circus also imported (1) a young male African bush elephant to go with the fifty-one they had on tour that year, making fifty-two, 50 Asians, a cyclotis, and the young male bush (that's right - - 52 elephants on tour with the circus!). This male would become famous as Diamond, sire of the first African calf born alive in USA at Knoxville zoo; (2) a young male common hippo named August who eventually went to the Jackson, MS zoo where he was a prolific breeder, (3) a pair of Grevy zebras, and (4) an okapi, the third one ever in USA. [Alas, the circus could not exhibit this animal because of quarantine regulations affecting wild born ruminants.] So, it went on loan to Brookfield zoo with its first offspring going to the circus in 1960.
I have documentation that as far back as 1906, the then separately owned Barnum & Bailey Circus was interested in getting a white rhino. [See: Pittsburgh Press, April 6, 1906]. That never materialized. But back to Hartley.
In 1947 he got the pair of northern white rhinos from Uganda, the same ones he was offering for sale in the above letter. Keeping them at his ranch in Rumuruti, Kenya, they quite tame and well known to Hartley's visitors. He used one of them, perhaps the male Gus, in a walk-by sequence in the 1950 movie King Solomon's Mines, starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr. Here is a still photo (above) from that sequence with Ms. Kerr in the background.

On June 5, 1963 Hartley's male Gus, by then a huge animal, arrived at Hannover Zoo. Here are two photos of him there, not long after arrival - -another example of rhino riding in zoos. It was rather common back then. These photos were sent to me by Hannover's Garlef Müller-Langenbeck.

I do not know the name of the keeper, but on the back of one of these photos is written. "Herr Stellmann." Perhaps that is he.

In September 1964 Gus was sent to the Zoological Gardens at Southampton, UK, a Chipperfield operation. Gus stayed there until May 1967 when shipped to Lion Country Safari, West Palm Beach, FL. in which the Chipperfields had an interest. Though ordinarily of good temperament, in August 1973 Gus attacked and injured Warner Andres, a German born keeper at Lion Country. Andres had tried to separate Gus from a young rhino. There is no further data about Gus and by this time he must surely have gone to rhino heaven.

Courtesy of Richard Reynolds

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