Monday, 31 March 2014

Gimpy the pygmy elephant at Cincinnati Zoo

(Front cover image for the purposes of a critique or review, Copyright Act 1988)

There appears to have been a pygmy elephant, or an elephant described as such, at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the 1930s. (Cincinnati, Ohio, in the US.) Their name (gender not given in the extracts I saw) was "Gimpy" and there are three references to "Gimpy the pygmy elephant" in the book The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens by Joy W. Kraft (20101), part of the Images of America series. I am investigating further.

Meanwhile, a quick round-up of the pygmy elephants in zoos described in Pygmy Elephants. Bernard Heuvelmans mentions that pygmy elephants were said to live in Antwerp Zoo, although I haven't found any references to this in the online catalogue of Antwerp's Felix Archive, which now has the digitised catalogue of the Antwerp Zoo papers. Bronx Zoo had "Congo the elephant", the type specimen of the alleged pygmy elephant species Loxodonta pumilio, whose remains are now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, clearly labelled as that of a forest elephant (Specimen No. M-35591 in the Museum's accession log.) There was at least one other "pygmy elephant" at Bronx Zoo, a female known as "Tiny", who may or may not have been the same animal as the pygmy elephant "Josephine".

In 1923, according to the Wellington, New Zealand, Evening Post (quoting the London Daily Mail), there was said to be a young pygmy elephant being looked after on behalf of a private owner in London Zoo. But then you should't ever believe anything you read in the Daily Mail. And you'll have to read Pygmy Elephants for more information on the two "pygmy elephants" said by a German vet to be living in Tacoma Zoo, the private zoo of the President of Liberia, in the 1970s.

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