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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Circus Vargas - Jack

A note regarding Circus Varas news in June 1976 Circus Report announces the addition of an eight year old male to the show, bringing the herd size to ten.

Circus Report, 5th year No 24, Page 15, 06/14/1976
Courtesy of

A 1977 elephant census listing for Circus Vargas, also published in Circus Report, lists a herd of of 13 animals - Minnie, Colonel, Lottie, Shirley, Judy, Hattie, Trixie, Koora, Dutchess, Sita, Muna, Dinnu, Jack.

The first eight animals ( sans Shirley ) are the same listed as the 1974 Circus Vargas herd by Buckles Woodcock.

Sita, Muna and Dinnu were added late in 1976 from Carden-Johnson and only performed on the show for one season prior to their sale to Mexico.

Shirley seems to be the same elephant imported by Murray Hill ( known as Denny ) and sold to Carl Kelton, later residing at the Gene Holter Ranch. More discussion of this animal will follow later at ShowMe Elephants.

The last animal, Jack, is presumed to be a male, but no further information has been found at this point. With the discovery of this news item, it seems we have found a confirmation of the animal's gender and approximate arrival date. More information is sought regarding the history of 'Jack.'


  1. Here's a couple of notes for you.

    Jack of Circus Vargas left the show with H.C.Bones Craig. About a year later he got Judy from Vargas also. Jack was originally named Jack Pot. Did the opening of the Circus Circus in Vegas. Would walk in pick a predetermined slot machine, pull the handle and of course a jack pot would result. He also flew on the areal track with the web number. Used a special harness rig made by Don McClellan (sp) Jack was handled in Vegas by a semi retired chimp trainer named Hank Craig. Lived in a pink and white striped tent out back. Jack developed a bad right let (stiff) with lots of pain. He was put down at the Univ of Calif @ Davis.

    There was a Bimbo and Jungleland for years (till the end. She as started by Arkie Scott and work the TV Show "Circus Boy" probably where she got her name. Arkie was back at the end of his life and worked her then as well.

    Have a safe season, Tom

  2. Since Jack, came to Vargas from Wildlife Safari in Oregon, and was later sold with Judy to Craig, is it possible that the Judy at Vargas and Craig may be identical with Judy born 1970 at Portland

    The Portland Judy presently has an unknown history after being sold 1978-09-17 from Wildlife Safari.

  3. Tom,

    Thank you very much for the information ! It greatly helps.


    I had thought of this scenario as well. California elephant man Toby Styles told me Tina, Judy, and Jackpot were sold to Winston Safari from the Vancouver Game Farm ~1973. The SSP Studbooks lists Tina and Judy, Portland Zoo births, sold to Vancouver around 1972. Both were born within a month of each other, spring 1970.

    Here's where it gets confusing - Jackpot came to Vegas ( as stated by Tom ) via Gene Holter. A 1969 Amusement Business elephant census lists 7 elephants with Gene Holter - including Jackpot, Tina and Judy. These can't be the same Tina and Judy due to their birth dates at Portland. The census was published in 05/1969.

    Judy and Jackpot are listed again with Holter ( sans Tina ) in a 1972 Amusement Business elephant census. The earliest I have confirmation of either with Vargas is Judy in 1974 and Jack in 1977. They both may have been there earlier but I do not have proof.

    Toby Styles confirmed that Holter's Judy became Vargas Judy ( a seemingly separate animal from Portland Judy ). I know the Studbook can be incorrect in some of the Portland births as I have found with the elephant Rex Williams later acquired and named McClane.

    As a side note, for the basis of the original article, the Circus Vargas acquisition mentioned above in June 1976 was not Jack - it was Reed #2. More to come later !

  4. Jack probably went to Holter's after the Jungleland auction. Seems to me that Jack was born at the Portland zoo, had a bad left leg as Portland elephants do (ie Gabriel. Don't know where Judy came from before Vargas. She is still alive and working part time. Tom


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.