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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Franklin Park Zoo - Beba / Mary, Part II

The story of Beba was unfolded with the purchase of numerous local news articles from the Boston area between 1948 to 1960.

Courtesy of Daily Boston Globe 07/1948

The nine year old animal first arrived to Franklin Park Zoo in 1948 from Frank "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Buck. The first news article documenting this animal, dated July 1948, says she was a gift to the city from Buck, originally costing him $5,000. The following month, Beba was pictured with stable mate Jenny bathing in their pool. It is again stated she was recently gifted to the zoo.

Courtesy of Daily Boston Globe 08/1948

The following year, the Franklin Park Zoo acquired a fourth elephant, Nellie, retired from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May. The reported 2 ton, 63 year old animal was presented to the zoo by show owner John Ringling North. However, due to her advanced age, the animal succumbed to malnutrition three months later. She reportedly had begun losing her teeth five years prior and was unable to digest food properly.

The mystery of Beba is unveiled with a news articles months before the arrival of Nellie. The Boston zoo's elephant herd is discussed under veteran boss animal man Tom Veasey, formerly with the Ringling show. His charges number three - retired circus elephants Jenny and Topsy, along with young and "temperamental" Beba, who starred in Frank Buck's picture "Bring 'Em Back Alive." Most important is the notation that Beba has a stable name as well - Mary.

Contradictory Records
It was previously noted that Beba's listing in the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant does list an arrival to the Franklin Park Zoo from Frank Buck, but the date is documented ~1974 and she is Lost to Follow-up. Mary is listed as well, but again with contradictory records. The Studbook states she was born ~1935 and arrived to the zoo on 05/15/1949 from Ringling.

Referencing these purchased news articles, there are numerous discrepancies with the dates of arrival and former locations of both Mary / Beba and Nellie. There is a large issue regarding Nellie and her original circus origins, discovered by Dan Koehl and to be discussed in a later article. Regardless of her former location, she no doubt arrived from Ringling in May 1948. The news article documenting her arrival, dated 05/13/1949, states she arrived "yesterday." News articles announcing her death in August that year state she arrived "in the spring." The arrival date for Mary in the Studbook lists 05/15/1949. The specific day does not match with the news article, but no doubt has the May 1949 arrival date from Ringling confused with the arrival date listed for Nellie - 01/15/1948. News articles could not be found to document a specific arrival for Mary / Beba, only a July 1948 notation of the animal, the zoo's "most recent addition."

Records as listed -
Courtesy of North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant

News articles after 1952 no longer refer to Mary by her public name Beba. In March 1952, Mary, Topsy and Jennie were joined by a nine month old calf named Pat from East Bengal. A recent article at ShowMe Elephants discusses this previously undocumented animal.

Two additional elephants were purchased the following year - two year olds Babe and Minnie. By 1955, the zoo's herd consisted of Topsy, Jennie, Mary, Babe and Minnie. It is unknown what became of Pat.

By 1960, the zoo's herd was down to their three youngest animals, Mary, Babe and Minnie. These three are documented by the Studbook, and also by respected animal historian Richard Reynolds III, as sold to Carson & Barnes Circus on 01/31/1973.

For Further Information:
>> "New at the Zoo," Daily Boston Globe, 07/18/1948
>> "Franklin Park Zoo Has Been Getting New Animals At Bargain Prices," Daily Boston Globe, 08/01/1948
>> "Franklin Park Animals at Best for Full House,"Daily Boston Globe, 01/02/1949
>> "Nellie the Elephant Leaves Circus for Franklin Park Zoo," Daily Boston Globe, 05/13/1949
>> "Nellie, Veteran of Circus, Dies at Franklin Park Zoo," Daily Boston Globe, 08/23/1949
>> "October Birth of Buffalo May Set New Record," Daily Boston Globe, 10/30/1955
>> "Stylish Stout Elephant Poses Diet Problem for Her Zoo Pals," Daily Boston Globe, 05/12/1960
>> "Franklin Park Zoo" at ShowMe Elephants

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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.