African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) at
Barnum & Bailey Circus in United States

dead elephant ☨ ♂ Jumbo  dead elephant
Jumbo displayed as museum specimen.
Jumbo as museum specimen.
Jumbo with his trainer Matthew Scott in London Zoo.
Jumbo with his trainer Matthew Scott in London Zoo.
Taxidermy location American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States


Museum accession number AMNH
SSP nr301


Species:African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Sex and age:Male ♂ 24 years old
Characteristics: skeleton
Body height: 3.32 meter, 10.9 feet
Body weight: 6500.00 kg, 14300.00 lbs
Born:* 1861 wild
Birth place: in Africa unspecified location
Imported:1861 by Unknown
Dead: 1885-09-15
Death reason: accident: crushed by a locomotive at train station in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Locations - owners
Present / last location:Barnum & Bailey Circus, in United States

Date of arrival

1882-04-09Barnum & Bailey Circus
from London Zoo

1865-06-26London Zoo
from Menagerie du Paris Jardin des Plantes

1861-00-00Menagerie du Paris Jardin des Plantes
from Johann Schmidt

1861-00-00Johann Schmidt
from Port of Cairo

1861-00-00Port of Cairo
from Suez Port

1861-00-00Suez Port 1861-00-00
from Africa unspecified location

Record history
History of updates2024-01-31

Latest document update2022-04-06 13:18:39
Relevant literature
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† Jumbo is a dead Male ♂ African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana), , who died 1885-09-15 at Barnum & Bailey Circus, in United States, . Official death reason described as crushed by a locomotive at train station in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

Museum locationThe Museum specimen remains of this animal is within the collection at American Museum of Natural History, in New York, United States.


Jumbo was born wild 1861 at Africa unspecified location. and imported 1861 by Unknown

Comments / pictures

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey Circus Matthew Scott, behind him George Arstingstall with basket, and elephant Jumbo, London zoo

Born and captured in Abbesinia or French Sudan, the small african elephant bull calf was brought to Cairo and purchased by the animal collector Johann Schmidt, who resold him to the menagerie at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, where he was exhibited with an african female, Alice.

By the initiative of superintendent of the London Zoo, Abraham Bartlett, Jumbo and Alice was transfered to London Zoo as exchange for an indian rhino.

"Bartlett sent Matthew Scott, a self-made expert in animal husbandry who had been with the London Zoo for more than a decade, to accompany the elephant to his new home. Upon arrival in Paris, the keeper was appalled: "A more deplorable, diseased and rotten creature never walked God's earth," he would recall.
Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey CircusJumbos arival filed in London Zoo

Scott never took a wife and essentially lived with Jumbo for the duration of the elephant's life, nursing the animal to robust health and sharing bottles of whiskey with him. He clearly emerges as one of several eccentrics brought to life here."
Paul Chambers, Jumbo: The Greatest Elephant in the World

Jumbo became very populair with the public in London, and used as a riding elephant, and he grew to a size of 11 1/2 Feet in height and 6 1/2 tons in weight.

Records about Jumbo from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/
He was not as tall as some would have him. The best I've read on that was attributed to Wm. Blackburne, first supt. of National Zoo (and formerly with Barnum & London in Jumbo's years). He said that the interior of Jumbo's special RR car was exactly 11 ft. from floor to ceiling and that one could put the width of a hand between the top of the highest point of Jumbo's back and the ceiling. So, Jumbo was about 10 ft. 9 in. tall. Still very impressive though a number of other captive African males have topped that.

Richard Reynolds

William "Buckles" Woodcock

Jumbo to America

"It was not Barnum but his partner, James Bailey, who proposed making an offer to the Londoners to bring the big animal to America. As was his habit, however, Barnum soon made the cause his own. By 1882 Bartlett was fed up with Scott, Jumbo's unruly trainer, who often used his hold over the elephant as blackmail against his employers. When the offer came from overseas to purchase the beast, Bartlett accepted - much to the chagrin of the zoo's constituency, which made its objections heard loud and clear."Paul Chambers, Jumbo: The Greatest Elephant in the World

Jumbo was sold in 1882 to P. T. Barnum, owner of "The Greatest Show on Earth", the Barnum & Bailey Circus for $10,000 US. A hundred thousand school children wrote Queen Victoria, begging her not to let Jumbo go, and lawsuits were brought against the society's officers for making the sale.

As a result of Barnum's publicity the word "jumbo" is now synonymous with "large" or "huge": billed as The Towering Monarch of His Mighty Race, Whose Like the World Will Never See Again, and huge was Barnums profit: thousands of New Yorkers met the ship on April 9, 1882, and in his first ten days with the circus menagerie, Jumbo brought in $30,000; during the first year, he earned $1.5 million. And then Jumbo was killed by a freight train at 9:30 p.m., on September 15, 1885, in St. Thomas, Ontario.

Jumbos death

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey CircusThe Greatest Show on Earth was almost ready playing, twenty-nine elephants had already finished their routines and had been led down the railroad tracks to their waiting cars, but the smallest, named after Tom Thumb, and the largest, Jumbo, remained to close the show. As Matthew Scott was bringing the two elephants to the wagon, he suddenly heard a wistle...

Edgar H. Flach (a well-known jeweler from St. Thomas, Ontario) wrote a first-person account:The flagman was frantically waving his lantern, trying to stop the oncoming train… Scotty realized the danger. "Run, Jumbo, Run," he cried, half sobbing . . . I could see Jumbo running down the tracks. His Trunk was held high in the air and his trumpeting sent paralyzing shivers down either side of my spine. At that moment the locomotive struck the small elephant, hurtling him down the embankment and against a telephone pole. Jumbo in the meantime had kept on at a break-neck speed. He remembered the opening in the line of cars, but… ran two car lengths past the opening before he realized his mistake. He stopped and turned. Then it was that the pilot of the engine struck him.
His head was bleeding, and hide was ripped open the entire length of his back. Jumbo lay there, barely breathing, for three hours before he finally died.
The animal… reached out his long trunk, wrapped it around the trainer and then drew him down to where that majestic head lay blood stained in the cinders. Scotty cried like a baby. Five minutes later, they lifted him from the lifeless body... That night Scotty laid down beside the body of his friend. At last exhausted from the strain, he fell asleep.

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey CircusWhen Jumbo died, his stomach was found to contain hundreds of coins, dozens more keys, and a police officer's whistle. Jumbo's skeleton, after traveling for a few seasons with the circus, went to the American Museum of Natural History, in New York. His hide, of course, went to Medford, where tugging on his tail for luck became such a tradition that the tail came off decades before the fire that consumed the rest of the body. Jumbo's leathery appendage resides in a box in the university archive.

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey CircusJumbos ashes in a Peanut Butter Jar.

"Jumbo, the prized pachyderm of P. T. Barnum, inspired the nickname of the college's sports program when the famed showman donated the mounted hide of his main attraction to the school in 1889. Carl Akeley stuffed Jumbo in 1885, and he stood proudly on display in the Barnum Museum of Natural History on campus, a good-luck charm to generations of students, until 1975, when the building, and its best-known inhabitant, burned."Paul Chambers, Jumbo: The Greatest Elephant in the World

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey Circus
Only some parts of the tail remain at the museum.

Jumbo in Barnum & Bailey Circus
Jumbos Skeleton can be seen at American Museum of Natural History in New York.

William Burnip, the train engineer who drove the switching engine that accidentally killed Jumbo later died in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

In Hardin County Ohio, there is a small town by the name of Jumbo, named after P.T Barnum's famous elephant.

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). Jumbo, African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) located at Barnum & Bailey Circus in United States. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 24 June 2024 at https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2109. (archived at the Wayback machine)

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Categories1885 deaths | American Museum of Natural History Taxidermy | 1861 births | Born in Ethiopia | 1861 imports | Elephants from Barnum & Bailey Circus | United States | African savanna elephants

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