Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Studbook Mysteries - Lincoln Park Zoo

From Wade Burck's "Circus No-Spin Zone:"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Vintage Lincoln Park Zoo
This photo taken in 1963 shows Teena being walked around the zoo.
Posted by Wade G. Burck

Jim A. said...
I was a volunteer keeper (because I didn't live in Chicago) at the LPZ Children's Zoo in 1960 and 61. Ed Maruska was the senior keeper before he went to Cincinnati (a week after me). We had a male Asian named Mogul and then a female African I think named Elka ( supposed to be one of the Hatari elephants.) Don't know where they ended up. When Mogul was very small he was kept in the CZ building. When both elephants were close to four feet tall they were exhibited on the lawn near the CZ and kept over night at the Small Mammal House. After a few rodeos they were reliable about moving back and forth but that was it for behaviors. My guess is LPZ probably leased babies until they out-grew their welcome. Long ago but my guess is the zoo keeper is Susie Rowan.

Radar said...
Thank you for sharing, Jim.
Elka went to the Phoenix Zoo for a short time before she was transferred to Busch Gardens in Tampa. In the late-1980s, Kings Island near Cincinnati acquired her. She died at the amusement park in 1992. Mogul left Chicago in 1963 to animal dealer Murray Hill. No records indicate where he ended up. Hopefully someone can help with this mystery.

Radar said...
Jim's guess regarding the Lincoln Park Zoo leasing baby elephants seems correct:
- Two year old Mogul was acquired in 1960. He was traded with animal dealer Murray Hill for months old Kate in summer 1963. Kate (the third acquired in 1963) died five years later.
- A two year old calf arrived in April 1963 from Miami Rare Bird and Game Farm, only to stay for three days before going to Joe Friso's zoo in Peoria.
- The Game Farm replaced the animal with Contessa, who was relocated to the International Animal Exchange three years later.
- Three year old Siri Sue stayed for a year between October 1971-1972 before sold to the Syracuse Zoo.
- Year old McClane spent three months in the summer of 1973 before returned to Circus Vargas.
There were also several that stayed into their teenage years or later, including Indu (acquired 05/1966) and Bozie (acquired 11/1976).
This is all based on the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant. Two of the elephants (Mogul and the Frisco elephant) are "Lost to Follow-up." There is no mention of a "Teena" elephant - I wonder if this could be the April calf that only stayed for several days?

Wade G. Burck said...
Good stuff, thank you. You are only about half a putz now because you have become smarter. Good job. Is the McClane you mention McLain that Rex Williams had on Vargas? I don't recall there being a McLain with Wally Ross in 1975, but I may be wrong. Wasn't McLain also the name of Alan Cambells african that went to Pittsburg?

Radar said...
(According to the Studbook): McClane was born at Portland in July 1972. Sometime the following year, Rex purchased him and (except for his brief stint in Chicago) he remained on Vargas until his death in the mid-1980s. When did he die and what was the cause? Do you have any pictures of him?
I do not know from where Campbell acquired his African male Maclean. He is one of the two bulls I asked you about regarding their location when Allen was employed by Hawthorn. Both were sold to Pittsburgh by after his death. Maclean is now at Disney.

In summary, discussed here are three elephants that are "Lost to Follow-up," without record of where they lived or died after a certain transfer. Also, an extra elephant named "Teena" was mentioned by Wade; she may or may not be one of the three lost elephants. There is no mention of an elephant named Teena in the studbook at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

To update my original comment to Jim Alexander regarding the temporary elephant calves, there are in fact three lost elephants rather than two. With further information that the photo was taken in June 1963, it eliminates the Peoria zoo elephant from the running, leaving only 'Contessa' as a possibility of the elephant pictured. This is unless there were other unlisted elephants located at the Lincoln Park Zoo in the selected timeframe. Five year old Mogul, who left the following month, would have been much larger than the animal pictured. However, Contessa's age is unknown if she would match the size of the elephant pictured; it is assumed she was another leased calf for the Children's Zoo as described by Jim Alexander.

Questions to be answered:
- What became of five year old Mogul after Murray Hill acquired him?
- What became of the two year old calf sent to the Glen Oak Zoo and what was she named?
- What became of Contessa after she was relocated to International Animal Exchange? Was she also known as Teena?
- Was there another elephant at the zoo named Teena that is unlisted?
- Are more specific dates available regarding the purchase/transfer of McClane to and from Rex Williams / Circus Vargas and the elephant's death?

Mogul, Male Asian, SB 474
1958 - Birth, Asia
01 Aug 1960 - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
17 Jul 1963 - Murray Hill Enterprises, Burlington, Wisconsin
- Lost to Follow-up

Donna [UPDATED], Female Asian, SB 475
1961 - Birth, Asia
Unk - Miami Rare Bird Farm
09 Apr 1963 - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
12 Apr 1963 - Glen Oak Zoo, Peoria, Illinois
- Lost to Follow-up

Contessa, Female Asian, SB 476
Unk - Birth, Asia
Unk - Miami Rare Bird Farm
24 Apr 1963 - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
02 May 1966 - International Animal Exchange, Ferndale, Michigan
- Lost to Follow-up

Mcclane / Gabriel, Male Asian, SB 59
19 Jul 1972 - Birth, Portland Zoo, Portland, Oregon
1973 - Rex Williams
08 Jul 1973 - Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois
21 Sep 1973 - Circus Vargas
~1983 - Death, Circus Vargas


  1. The elephant that went to Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria was named Donna. She was more than your usual zoo baby elephant. She also appeared at a lot of local dates, the Bozo TV show out of Chicago, and a few circuses. She was sold (I think) in late 1968. Again, just fuzzy memory, but Bobby Gibbs had a plan to sell her to a Mexican circus but Joe ended up selling her somewhere else.

  2. Thank you very much for your comment, Jim. As with most learning, when one question is answered, two more arise. The North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant lists very few elephants residing at the Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria, Illinois. According to information derived from Terry Frisco, two different elephants at the zoo were named Donna. Both were described as imported directly from Asia, though this information is now contradicted with the knowledge that the Lincoln Park Zoo calf they acquired was named Donna.

    One of these elephants was said to have been sold to Carson and Barnes Circus, while the other was sold to David Meeks. Referencing the studbook, only one of these animals is listed; the Hugo elephant is listed with a Temporary Studbook Number while the Meeks elephant is unlisted. According to the records of Bob Cline, Meeks’ two year old Donna was imported in 1960, resided with the Frisco Brothers Circus and later a private ranch in Georgia before she was purchased by Hollywild Animal Park (owned by David Meeks) in 1975. Joe Frisco Sr. was director of the Glen Oak Zoo at this time and brought in baby elephants to train for other parties. Which of these two Donna elephants was the one acquired from Chicago? What became of the Carson and Barnes Donna?

    Another mystery elephant appears in the studbook as well. Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach acquired a 12 year old female Asian elephant named Donna around 1968. She also has a Temporary Studbook Number and is lost to follow-up. Was this animal actually one of the two Donna elephants out of Peoria?

  3. Found your site while researching this same subject for a Facebook group on Peoria.

    I have a postcard of a baby elephant standing with a trainer, the back of which is printed with the following:

    "A recent addition here at Glen Oak
    is Dona the Baby elephant
    She's learning some tricks for her
    very own show, a really outstanding event.
    Glen Oak Park Zoo
    Peoria, Illinois"

    The postcard was published by:
    James Tetirick
    619 W 33rd K.C., 11, MO.
    number 310446
    Tetricolor Card

    The postcard was never mailed and there are no dates on it.

    The name is spelled "Dona" on the card, not "Donna".

    The man in the photo is youngish and I don't think it is Joe Frisco.

    I remember seeing this elephant at Glen Oak Zoo, but don't think she was there for more than a couple years.

    If you would like an image of the postcard, let me know where to send it.

  4. Anonymous,
    Thank you for your input. I sat down with Joe Frisco Sr several months ago and he explained the history of the Donnnas for me. There were actually four! I will reference my notes after the holidays and straighten it all out. In the meantime, you can email your postcard to shomeetigers[at]

  5. I was searching for information on the elephant I saw at the Children's Zoo back in 65 or 66 when I found this page. I was born in 61 and have never
    forgotten the wonder of actually being able to enter the enclosure and interact with a baby elephant just about my size. I have tried to describe to people, what it feels like to touch an elephant and I fail every time. If you were one of the handlers in those years, perhaps we met. I thank all of you for your work with these amazing and wonderful creatures.

    I wish I knew which elephant I met and what happened to him/her but I guess that's a terrible mystery. I'd like to imagine her or she is still out there somewhere but I know it's unlikely.

    Thanks for trying to put the records right. There are "just plain folks" out here who remember and care.


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.