Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vintage National Zoo

Dr. William Mann, Director of the National Zoo, above in 1925 and below a scan of a picture from one of a number of book's he authored, titled "Wild animals in and out of the Zoo" published in 1930.

Chapter 5 The Big Cats:

DURING the forty years of the National Zoological Park's
existence there have been fifty-one lions in the collec-
tion, some on short loans, others as permanent deposits.
Thirteen years for one and fifteen and a half years for
another constitute the records for longevity. The lion
attains maturity at about five years of age. At eight he
is in the prime of life, and after that steadily declines.
It is interesting to note that at the zoo in Dublin, famous
for its success in raising lions, the record for longevity
in a female is eleven years.

Nineteen baby lions have been born in the National
Zoological Park. Unfortunately, a number of these sprang
from very poor stock. Caste exists among lions as in
other animals, and for a number of years ours were
distinctly "low brow." However, the mayor and citizens
of Johannesberg in South Africa presented to President
Coolidge a pair of cubs, and these are growing up into
magnificent lions.

Dunk(should have named him Dink), pictured above is what I would consider a "homely" elephant. The other day there was discussion that possibly an elephant physical issue's/features might possibly be environmental and not genetic, and if genetic why propagate it. I find interesting this excerpt from chapter IX Elephants Good and Bad, in Dr. Mann's book and the statement " He was a second-class elephant (grade dwasala)." I have searched and searched for anything published about "grading/judging" Asian elephant's and can's seem to find anything substantial. Does anyone know of any books or studies done on the "grading/judging" of elephants in Asia?

Chapter 9 Elephants Good and Bad:

FROM the time they arrived at Rock Creek and so launched
the National Zoo as a physical fact, the elephants pre-
sented to the United States by a traveling circus made
Zoo history. Mr. Blackburne recalls some of the high
lights of their career herewith:

The first animals to be quartered at the newly created
National Zoological Park were Dunk and Gold-dust,
male Indian elephants presented to the Government on
April 30, 1891, by James E. Cooper, owner of the Adam
Forepaugh Circus. Secretary Langley of the Smith-
sonian, Dr. Frank Baker, Mr. A. B. Baker, and I visited
the circus to accept the gift. Mr. Cooper found it neces-
sary to dispose of the animals because of their vicious
disposition. Dunk was an elephant fighter and frequently
charged the other male elephants of the show. Separating
them was a dangerous task. When we got him, Dunk
weighed 6,040 pounds, and his age was estimated at
twenty-five years. He was a second-class elephant
(grade dwasala) and fairly easy to handle except during
the must period. Some years before his death he became
weak in the hips and joints of the hind legs. Because of
this condition he was unable to lie down, and so slept
standing up, leaning against the wall. Paralysis of the
trunk followed, when it became difficult for him to bring
food and water to his mouth. During the early hours of
March 30, 1917, while sleeping in his accustomed position,
he lost his balance, and fell forward to the floor, breaking
his shoulder. He was of such dead weight that the bone
protruded through the hide.


Toby Styles said...

In Asia they had a very involved grading system for working elephants suspect it was different from country to country. I have been told of books on the subject but don't know any details.


Anonymous said...

I just recalled one of Elephant Bills books talks a bit about it.
I had thought that the great old Ringling elephant Kenaddie (I know I have butchered the spelling of her name). Anyway her name is from one of the grades or types of elephants.

Wade G. Burck said...

Ringling's elephant was Kernaudi and according to the elephant data base there was also a Karnaudi(Kernaudi) at Beech Bend Amusement Park, who died in 1960. She is "attributed" to Charles Garvin who has 17 elephants attributed to him, with arrival dates from the late 50's to the early 6o's. All of them are dead???? Does anyone know who Charles was?
The majority of deaths, physical ailments, foot problems, etc. etc. have bee blamed on the husbandry of elephants in zoo's and circus's. What are the chances "inferior" stock was purchased as far back as the first import of elephants? We they really captured by the intrepid Frank Buck's and Carl Hagenbecks of the time, or did that just make for exciting movie reels? Financially it would have made more sense to contract with a logging company, or similar concern to buy surplus babies and have them available for pickup. Did the mahouts with centuries of knowledge pass off their culls, and keep the best for their need in the logging industry? Like Government stud farm's who bred horse's because they had a use for them, it didn't behoove them to sell the best. They keep those for their need's, and sell the "good" but not "great" surplus to others. I have noted an incredible inconsistency in "type" particularly of captive Asian elephants(which seems to have more physical ailments then Africans, or am I wrong on that?), visually and through 100's of years of photographic documentation. Is it possible the "physical afflictions" attributed to captivity, are possibly the result of starting with inferior physical specimens, doing physical things with them, leading to an eventual crippling, man not realizing they had issue's from birth. How many elephants in captivity were actually "randomly" captured for zoo's or circus's, and how many were "picked through" by breeders with a purpose and centuries more knowledge? In the agricultural/horse animal industry you can buy sons, daughters, grandsons, grand daughters, brothers, sisters etc. etc. of "Big Shit 0 the Moment", but "Big Shit" himself with rare exception can't be bought. If the Mahouts bred guppies they would flush cull's down the toilet. Did they find an available market for their elephant's that didn't make the grade, in the eager to have something with a trunk and tail in America and Europe?


Wade G. Burck said...

Addendum to Toby,
I don't get to facebook too often, as it is hard for my challenged technically brain to navigate around it.
I do have photo's of Smokey, but not of the Polar X Kodiak hybrid at National. If you have one I would sure appreciate a copy of it. That's if you have time in between offering me "sound" advice on how to get around "tough" elephants. It is greatly appreciated. LOL I wish I would have known this "method" the day I loaded Nic, because I could have made crib notes on a wrist band to glance at while I was ducking and dodging. I do know it would have taken a lot of "grease" to get Eddy Novak slippery enough.

Friends like this, who needs enemies:

"International Zoo Yearbook Volume 2 which is themed around large mammals. Interesting paper from the director of the zoo in Colombo Sri Lanka in which he describes restraining a musth bull by getting a small mahout stripping him naked covering him with grease and sending him in to attach the ropes/chains (I guess elephants have trouble grabbing grease naked mahouts) don't know why you never tried this with Joyce or Billie."

Be safe, mate

Steve said...

The small, naked, greasy mahout sounds like a Ralph Hefler story to me!

I think that your theory of dealers acquiring culls could be spot on the money.

We know from published accounts that when the Bullens from Australia went to Asia looking for elephants after WW2 that they went to logging camps to source stock. I can't imagine that any logging camp would sell it's best animals to a stranger, any more than a circus would sell it's best animals to a zoo or another circus.

Sometimes a show could get lucky with a cull. Bullen's famous Peggy might not have been wanted in Asia but she was a wonderful elephant throughout her long life here in Australia.

Other shows in this country sourced animals from dealers in Singapore such as De Sousa. Is a dealer going to go to the expense of setting up a costly "Bring 'em Back Alive" expedition or is he going to go around the camps and purchase the unwanted animals?

With regards to foot problems - here in Australia they have been much more prevalent in zoos rather than circuses. Is that also the case in the USA?

Wade G. Burck said...

What kind of a routine did Peggy do? How physically demanding was it? I am not aware of any studies having been done on foot problems in zoo's as opposed to circus's, so any speculation would be "biased" I would think. Has there ever been a legitimate study done on the number of foot problems 60 years ago compared to foot problems the past 30 years? That issue I would think would be worth knowing.
As Raffaele de Ritis has accepted the circus sun does not rise and set on Italy and the Togni family, you need to accept that it also does not rise and set on Australia and the Bullen family. It is generally accepted that the circus sun rises and set's on Ringling Bros, and American!!!!!