Elephants: Chapters 4, 5, 6 & Epilogue

Chapter Four is “The Twentieth Century”

For elephants in America, the 20th Century began by infantilizing them in circus acts: playing brass bands, boxing one another with boxing gloves on their trunks, dressing them up in inane costumes for silly little scenes. We truly had no understanding of their true nature. Tusko, one of the most famous elephants of the 1930s, regularly found the sour mash, leaving chaos and a pile of squashed cars in his wake. The public found that very entertaining.
Black Diamond, however, was known as the “bad elephant” and in 1927 was killed with 170 bullets fired from sub machine guns. He was the last male elephant in America for decades to come.

Chapter Five tells stories of “Elephant Babies in America.”

In 1875, the first elephant baby born was born in America. He lived two days. It was 75 years more before keepers even knew how long gestation was (22 months), or how the baby drank (mouth not trunk). The second elephant born in America came in 1880. His mother immediately picked him up and threw him 20 yards. She never let him nurse directly, so little Columbia was fed by funnel and hose. Somehow he lived almost 27 years. In the 20th Century, no American-born elephant would survived longer than a year until 1962. While they lived, though, no other “act” brought more people to the circus than baby elephants.

Chapter Six tells the sad tales of three elephants we famously murdered in America. The Epilogue highlights elephant communication and intelligence.

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