P. T. Barnum’s Grand Colossal Museum and Menagerie, United States
, was founded in 1851 and the first elephant arrived in 1851. The last elephant left in 1854. P. T. Barnum’s Grand Colossal Museum and Menagerie closed down in 1854.
In 1849 I had projected a great traveling museum and menagerie, and, as I had neither time nor inclination to manage such a concern, I induced Mr. Seth B. Howes,
justly celebrated as a ‘showman,’ to join me, and take the sole charge. Mr. Sherwood E. Stratton,
father of General Tom Thumb, was also admitted to partnership, the interest being in thirds.
In 1849 he planned the formation of a great travelling show, combining the features of a museum, a menagerie and a circus. In this he associated with himself Mr. Seth B. Howes,
who was already a noted and successful showman, and also Mr. Stratton, the father of Tom Thumb. In order to procure a supply of novelties for this show they chartered the ship "Regatta," and sent it from New York in May, 1850, to Ceylon. The object of this voyage, was to procure, either by purchase or by capture, a number of living elephants and other wild animals. To make sure of a sufficient supply of fodder for them, nearly a thousand tons of hay were purchased in New York and taken out aboard the ship. Five hundred tons of it were left at the Island of St. Helena, to be taken up on the return trip, and a great supply of staves and hoops were also left there for the construction of water casks.
This extraordinary mission was successful. In almost exactly a year from the day of sailing the ship returned to New York. Its novel cargo was unloaded, the ten elephants which had been secured were harnessed in pairs to a gigantic chariot, and the whole show paraded up Broadway past the Irving House. It was reviewed from the window of that hotel by Jenny Lind, who was stopping there on her second visit to New York. An elaborate outfit of horses, wagons, tents, etc., was added, the whole costing over $100,000, and then the show went on the road under the nominal leadership of Tom Thumb. It was called, "Barnums Great Asiatic Caravan, Museum and Menagerie;" it travelled about the country for four years, and yielded to its proprietors enormous profits.