Dunk (Duncan)
Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) at
Smithsonian National Zoological Park in United States

dead elephant ☨ ♂ Dunk (Duncan)  dead elephant

Taxidermy locationWashington National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, United States


Museum accession number NMNH USNM 218724
Local id Number NZP 2420
SSP nr477


Species:Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Male ♂ 51 years old
Characteristics: Skin, skull, partial Skeleton
Body weight: 2745.45 kg, 6040.00 lbs
Born:* 1866 wild
Birth place:
Dead: 1917-03-30
Death reason: shot: shot with a rifle after breaking his shoulder after falling
Locations - owners
Present / last location:Smithsonian National Zoological Park, in United States

Date of arrival

1891-04-30Smithsonian National Zoological Park
from Adam Forepaugh Circus

Record history
History of updates2021-07-29

Latest document update2021-07-29 00:23:18
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† Dunk (Duncan) is a dead Male ♂ Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), , who died 1917-03-30 at Smithsonian National Zoological Park, in United States, . Official death reason described as shot with a rifle after breaking his shoulder after falling.

Museum locationThe Museum specimen remains of this animal is within the collection at Washington National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, DC, United States, since 1917-03-30.


Dunk (Duncan) was born wild 1866.

Comments / pictures

Date of Dunk's transfer to NZP noted in Annual Report (1894) is incorrect. "Local Notes" and "Bison to Biopark" give the date as 1891, not 1890.
Dunk (Duncan) in Smithsonian National Zoological ParkGold Dust and Dunk with head keeper W. H. Blackburne at the National Zoological Park, 1898

In 1891, the first animals to be quartered at the new National Zoo were Dunk and Gold-dust, donated to the government by James E. Cooper, owner of the Adam
Forepaugh Circus. Dunk fought badly with the other elephants, requring his transfer. The zoo accepted the 25 year old, 6040 pound elephant.

While sleeping one night in March 1917, Dunk lost his balance and fell, breaking his shoulder with the bone protruding from his hide. He was shot eight times in the ear with a 45-caliber Winchester rifle, causing his death.

Several years ago, when Dunk was still living, I visited the elephant house in the National Zoological Park. The floor of Dunk’s enclosure was raised several inches above that of the front of the building. A peanut lay at the base of this raised floor and Dunk was trying to obtain it. But it was too close to the raised floor and he could not get hold of it. After a little he put his Trunk down near the peanut and blew a gentle blast, rolling it out where it was easily accessible.

Dunk was the only elephant I ever knew who, having “gone bad” in a traveling menagerie, regained his good disposition in a park. Usually when an elephant “goes bad,” he is bad ever afterward.

W. Henry Sheak, The Elephant in Captivity, Natural History, September-October 1922

Reference list


Koehl, Dan, (2024). Dunk (Duncan), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) located at Smithsonian National Zoological Park in United States. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 17 June 2024 at https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2561. (archived at the Wayback machine)

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Categories1917 deaths | Washington National Museum of Natural History Taxidermy | 1866 births | Born in Sri Lanka | Elephants from Smithsonian National Zoological Park | United States | Asian elephants

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