Jumbo the Elephant (1860 – 1885) was exported from Sudan, where he was born, to a zoo in Paris and then in 1865 transferred to the London Zoo in England. He was dearly loved, especially by the children who had the joy of riding on him, but in 1882, under great protest, he was sold to P.T. Barnum who took him back to his Circus in the USA. Over 100,000 children wrote to Queen Victoria pleading with her not to sell Jumbo, but legally the deal could not be stopped and Barnum refused to sell him back.
Barnum exhibited Jumbo in Madison Square Gardens and made enough money in 3 weeks to recoup the £2,000 he had spent to purchase him. He made £1.7M in the 31-week season due to his main attraction, this wonderful elephant.
Jumbo died in a train accident, right here in St. Thomas, Ontario where I live. In those days Barnum’s circus traveled North America via train and many rail lines converged in St. Thomas. After their performance here that night, they were being led to their box car and another train came speeding down the track. On that fateful night of September 15, 1885 Jumbo was hit and he died within minutes. This story really breaks my heart.
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