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Jumbo
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Jumbo

Jumbo (1861 - September 15, 1885) was the most famous elephant ever, and is the root of the adjective 'jumbo'.
Jumbo was an African elephant, born in 1861 in the French Sudan from where he was imported to France and kept in the old Zoo Jardin des Plantes close to the South railway station Gare de Sud in Paris . In 1865 he was transferred to the London Zoo, where he became famous through the riding operations. It was the London zoo-keepers that gave Jumbo its name. It is a slightly garbled version of the word jambo, which is Swahili for "hello".

He was sold in 1882 to P. T. Barnum, owner of "The Greatest Show on Earth", the Barnum & Bailey Circus;. Barnum's publicity made the name Jumbo synonymous with "huge".

Estimated to be 3.25 meters high in the London Zoo, it was claimed that Jumbo was approximately 4 meters tall by the time of his death.

Jumbo died at a train station in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, when a locomotive crushed him. A statue now at the site commemorates that tragedy.

Jumbo's skeleton were donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Jumbo's hide was stuffed and traveled with Barnum's circus for a number of years. In 1889, Barnum donated the stuffed Jumbo to Tufts University, where it was displayed until destroyed by a fire in 1975. In honor of Barnum's donation, Jumbo became the Tufts mascot.


Jumbo is also the title of a musical produced in 1935 by Billy Rose, with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and book by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, and directed by John Murray Anderson and George Abbott. It told the story of a financially-strapped circus. The play was performed at the Hippodrome Theatre, and starred Jimmy Durante.

The more well-known songs from the show are: "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "This Can't Be Love" and "My Romance". The song "There's a Small Hotel", dropped from the production before it opened, later appeared in the Rodgers and Hart film On Your Toes and became a standard.

The musical play was made into a movie as Billy Rose's Jumbo in 1962, starring Jimmy Durante, Doris Day, Martha Raye, and Stephen Boyd, featuring Busby Berkeley's choreography. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score.