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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chessington Zoo - Rosie

Dick Chipperfield states in his 1963 book "My Friends The Animals" that, at age 24, his first elephant was not a good circus elephant. She was subsequently sold to the Chessington Zoo.

"Taken on March 29th, 1935. The caption reads: Good morning, Mrs. Elephant. Rajah, the poney, likes to accompany the assistants at feeding time at the Chessington, Surrey, Zoo. Here they are calling on \'Rosie\' the elephant, who seems to be giving them a good welcome."
Courtesy of Meaghan Edwards,

Dan Koehl states the Chipperfield family's first elephant was named Rosie. Subsequent searches find more photographs and records of her.

Neither, nor the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Asian Elephant Studbook have record of this animal.

We were so successful with them that the following year we were able to buy a little elephant which, incidentally, became so friendly with our original black stallion that eventually they were inseparable. //Dick Chipperfield

A circa 1935 zoo poster featuring Rosie the elephant:
>> "Posters,"

Numerous vintage Chessington zoo elephant photographs:
>> "Photos,"

A May 1932 image of Rosie in harness pulling a vehicle:
>>"Elephant's Heave-Ho,", 05/10/1932

An April 1932 newsreel film featuring a four year old Rosie at Surrey:

No specific dates can be found of Rosie's acquisition by the Chipperfields nor for her sale to the Chessington Zoo in Surrey. What became of her (death or transfer) is also unknown. Her record has been added to with a confirmed existence at both of these locations.

>> "Rosie at Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington Zoo)" at

The existence of this elephant was raised in a post documenting the large Chipperfield elephant herd import in the late 1940s to the sale of eight elephants to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the early 1960s.

>> "Jim Stockley Collection - Chipperfields 1956" at ShowMe Elephants," 06/12/2011

Update 12/06/2011:
Rob Vaughn completes Rosie's story in the comment found below and shares two images as well from postcards.


  1. Ryan,

    I saw your blog post on Rosie the Chessington elephant and I can add a bit more information.

    Rosie was born around 1928 and was originally owned by G. B. Chapman. She was sold to the Chipperfields for £400 and eventually arrived at Chessington on 14th February 1932 (with a black horse named 'Spangle'). She appeared in the Chessington Circus from 1933 (its first season) until 1940 and was trained and handled by Hans Brick. Brick left Chessington in 1935 and from this point Rosie was very difficult to handle; he returned in 1939 and was able to get her working calmly again but he left again in 1940. Rosie was shot - seemingly towards the end of 1940 - as it was felt that she would be dangerous if she escaped during a bombing raid. It is probably no coincidence that Brick had trained up a new elephant named Comet before he left Chessington, presumably as a replacement for Rosie.

    I have attached two more images of Rosie - one from an early Chessington guidebook (ca.1936) and one from a postcard.

    Cheers, Rob

  2. Fantastic! Its so great that all this information is not lost, but now shared!

  3. Rob,
    Thank you very much for completing the story on Rosie! While updating her records at, I learned that G.B. (George) Chapman was an animal dealer and founder of his own zoo, Chapman's London Zoo Circus, and also co-founder of the Belfast Zoo. With the addition of Rosie, there are now 11 elephants accredited to Chapman's personal location. Three are relocated / lost from his zoo.

    I have also found a reference at ZooChat to the elephant Comet from "reptile1517:"

    "I am wondering if any Chessington Zoophobes have any information on the two elephants who featured in the Circus during the war and until around 1951 when they went off the radar. They were purchased from Chapmans in 1941 and were called Nellie & Margaret. They worked with Chessington's other elephant, Comet. Does anyone have any thoughts or knowledge. Thanks."

  4. A minor detail reg Rosie, was she only traded by Chapman, or did she tour with Chapmans London zoo circus ? >>

  5. Hi Ryan & Rob,

    Glad to have come across your blog Ryan, and your post on Chessington's Rosie... It's also wonderful to read the background information on her from Rob. I see you have already linked to the poster and pictures of her on my website: I would be most grateful if I could get permission to add the details that Rob has posted of Rosie to my website.

    Kind regards,


  6. Came across this picture of Hans Brick with Rosie, which I though you may be interested in...

    Elephant training at Chessington. Mr Hans Brick, who has trained Rosie, an Indian elephant in under a month. April 11th 1933.

  7. Lawrence,
    Please feel free to distribute the information regarding Rosie's history. I started ShowMe Elephants with the intention of "synchronizing records with other facilities, enthusiasts and elephant researchers." So long as any photo or information here is not used to harm individuals or the captive animal industry, permission is granted! Thank you for the additional picture of Rosie and Mr. Brick.

  8. Just got new information about Comet, she was sold to Tognis in Italy. Jim Clubb knows the details.

  9. Wow, just seen this. Hans Brick was my Granddad & I have seen that pic before. I do believe here is another with him walking down the street in London with an elephant. I am not sure if it Rosie or not though..

  10. Has anyone found photographs of Rosie with George Bruce Chapman?


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.