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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Circus Report Elephant Census 1985

A February 1986 issue of Circus Report documented performing elephants across the United States. Elephant listings such as these provide an invaluable resource, not only to help track transfers and sales to new owners, but also to give an overall view of a show's herd at a given time. The recording for the 1985 season lists several elephants, both African and Asian, for which no further information can be found at this time. More information is sought regarding these animals and their history.

R. Olsen - African female "Alecki"

D. McAuliffe - African female "Daisy"

Grover Callahan - African female "Eatewa"

Marty Dennis - Asian female "Gypsy"

Steve Martin - Asian female "Jenny"

Pat Guthrie - Asian female "Lisa"


  1. Is the Steve Martin listed above the gentleman featured as a lecturer at the First European Elephant Management School in Hamburg, Germany ?


  2. Ryan,

    Steve Martin who was one of our lecturer at Hagenbeck never worked with Elephants.

    Vincent M.

  3. Dr Martin Dinnes DVM..

  4. Thank you, Vince and Gary.

    The 2010 North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephants lists one elephant under the ownership of Marty Dennis.

    Birth - ~08/1966, Thailand
    ~1968 - Harrods, Kensington, London, United Kingdom
    10/06/1968 - Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, California
    ~1973 - Jungle Enterprises / Larry Johnson, Waco, Texas
    ??? - Marty Dennis
    ??? - Trunks & Humps / Bill Swain, Cut n' Shoot, Texas
    04/23/1986 - Honolulu Zoo, Honolulu, Hawaii
    08/05/1987 - Have Trunk Will Travel / Gary & Kari Johnson, Perris, California
    06/25/1998 - African Lion Safari, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
    ( alt. names GERTIE / GOP / JENNY )

    A June 1987 Circus Report mentions that Gary Johnson purchased 20 year old Jenny from the Honolulu Zoo. She was owned by Johnson's father originally back in the early 1970s. She was at the San Diego Zoo before going to Hawaii.

    From a source who wishes to remain anonymous, Marty Dennis sold his elephant Gypsy to Michael Jackson, where she passed away. Prior to the sale, she was at a park in San Diego doing rides.

    Via news articles found online from the 1980s, veterinarian Martin Dinnes and animal trainer Steve Martin founded together "Trunk and Hump" in 1983, providing elephant and camel rides to the San Diego Zoo. Elephants Katie and Gypsy were named as the ride elephants provided, residing at the zoo for the six year duration of services provided. Both worked for a Sacramento-based animal trainer in 1967 ( a Johnson ? ). Gypsy was purchased 50% by each in 1983. The following year, a second elephant and two camels were purchased. Trunk & Hump was formed ( not to be confused with Trunks & Humps, the Bill Swain operation based in Texas ). $1.75 was charged to ride Gypsy and Katie ( the latter the presumed purchase in 1984 ). In late 1989, the zoo terminate their contract with Trunk & Hump. 23 year old Katie and 38 year old Gypsy were forced to be relocated. Gypsy ended up at Michael Jackson's and Dr. Dinnes became Jackson's full time veterinarian. Katie was sold to Gary Johnson and renamed Calle.

    If all the above information is correct, it is difficult to find where the above mentioned Jenny fits in. Perhaps the duo had purchased a third elephant but sold her to the Honolulu Zoo and reduced their herd back to two.

  5. Lisa was leased to Pat Guthery by Hoxie Tucker as was most of the equipment on Jule and Beck. Dick Dykes

  6. Dick,

    Thank you for the help. I have found two different elephants with Pat Guthrie from Hoxie - Myrtle ( 1981 to 1983 ) and Betty ( 1983, presumably replacing Myrtle after her death in July 1983 ). He had another female Asian elephant from the North Carolina Zoo in summer 1984 named Twinkles.

    In 1984, Ralph Helfer's Gentle Jungle in California still had 3 elephants remaining. These three may have been Debbie, Lisa and Dixie, though only Debbie's name is included in a news article discussing the Littlerock, California, facility. Dixie was acquired by the Johnson family. I cannot find any further information regarding Debbie. I believe Guthrie's Lisa may be this Helfer elephant and was later acquired by Chuck Pankow.

  7. Regarding LISA above, Holter's Lisa was eventually acquired by Chuck Pankow and spent 1988 at the Syracuse Zoo for a month before transferred to the Bowmanville Zoo, where she stayed until her death in 1990 per the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant. The Murray Hill records compilation state she was on loan to zoo owner Mike Hackenberger from Chuck Pankow.

    The gray area is the mid 1980s - if there were owners / exhibitors of Lisa between Gentle Jungle and Mr. Pankow. In 1984, Jules & Beck Circus owner Pat Guthrie was placing ads in Circus Report for an elephant handler, advertising "year round work, salary plus commission." The same year, Guthrie placed another Circus Report ad for the availability of a short-term or permanent lease for a gentle, female Asian elephant which does acts or rides. By 1986, his "very gentle" female Asian elephant is listed for sale for $15,000.

    A 1987 Circus Report elephant census lists a female Asian elephant Lisa with Dick Garden's Toby Tyler Circus. She is one of 13 elephants on the show, consisting of both Asian and African females.

    Confirmation is sought if these animals are one and the same.

  8. "Alecki" with R. Olsen is actually Akili, owned by Robert & Dotty Olson.


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.