Born in 1861 in French Sudan, imported to Paris as a two year old calf, then later sold to the London Zoo at Regent's Park, Jumbo the elephant delighted countless children (including Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt) with rides and treats gently taken from outstretched hands. Each night, after the children and their families had gone home, he was mistreated in an attempt to keep him docile. By the time he reached sexual maturity, the abused and isolated animal had become dangerously unstable. He was sold to showman P.T. Barnum in 1881 (despite letters from 100,000 British schoolchildren who wrote to Queen Victoria begging her to prevent the sale) and brought to America. There, in the company of other elephants and amid greater physical freedom, Jumbo stabilized and went on to become one of the most lucrative circus acts of all time - as well as the most beloved. The world mourned when his life ended in 1885, with a storied (and most likely embellished) act of animal heroism. Jumbo reportedly rushed in front of an oncoming train in an effort to save a smaller elephant â?? his companion "Tom Thumb" â?? then perished while reaching his trunk out toward his longtime handler Matthew Scott â?? whose intense connection with the pachyderm spawned legends of its own.
Integrating the history of elephants in captivity along with the details of Jumbo's celebrity life, dramatic death, and lasting cultural legacy, John Sutherland has written the first comprehensive "biography" of this incredible animal - one whose name has given us one of our most common and hyperbolic adjectives.
'Sutherland's fascinating and eclectic book is a fitting tribute to Loxodonta africana and it deftly evokes the manifold and ever more pressing threats to the species.' -- Philip Hoare, Samuel Johnson Prize-winning author of Leviathan, or, The Whale. New Statesman 'Elegant cultural history. Jumbo is a compelling portrait of a wonderful creature and less wonderful human motivation.' -- Tristan Quinn TLS 'A wonderfully engaging and learned narrator.' -- Katie Law Evening Standard 'It is a "fantasia". Or rather, an "elephantasia". The word sets the tone. The author, a former professor of English at University College London, is out to entertain-punning, digressing, mixing it up, high and low. But, behind the banter, he has a savage story to tell.' Economist 'It's a fascinating story, told stylishly and wittily.' -- Bernard Porter Guardian 'I can think of nobody better to trumpet the elephant than Sutherland. Academic yet conversational, and at times very funny, he is the perfect guide.' -- Stephen Griffin Sunday Express 'Hugely entertaining survey of Jumbo's sad life and strange legacy.' -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Daily Telegraph 'This book is so wonderful, so charming, I promise it will allow everyone to find the little Jumbo inside themselves.' -- Helen Rumbelow The Times 'This isn't just a book about killing elephants; it's a book about being horrible to elephants in more general ways. It's very good. It's one of those books that shows you the world through the lens of a small part of it. Sutherland's tone throughout is one of dry wit; the track where Jumbo died, he points out, was known as 'the grand trunk'. Sutherland makes Jumbo his main character, and shows us that by looking at this elephant's life, and the lives of other captive elephants, you can learn a lot about people too. It's a tall tale. And rather superbly put together.' -- William Leith Spectator 'A treasure trove of elephant ephemera with eye-popping statistics on trunks, dung, sex and characters from Chunee, Jumbo's popular show animal predecessor in London, to Disney's fictional Dumbo. The best of the details are fascinating.' -- Louise Jury Independent
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 1st October 2014
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 13.8 x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.48