Old John (John L. Sullivan, Othello, Tiny, Light of Asia) at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

Male ♂ Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) Old John (John L. Sullivan, Othello, Tiny, Light of Asia) at Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

† Old John (John L. Sullivan, Othello, Tiny, Light of Asia)
ID Number:
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Male ♂, unknown maybe about years old (estimated age)
Dead date: 1932-01-16
Death reason: unknown:
Location:Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus
ArrivedRingling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus 1919-00-00
from Ringling Brothers Circus
Ringling Brothers Circus 1911-00-00
from Forepaugh-Sells Show
Forepaugh-Sells Show 1896-00-00
from Adam Forepaugh Circus
Adam Forepaugh Circus 1884-03-00
from William Cross
William Cross
from Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Born: wild
Document updated2009-01-14: Text
2010-05-10: Text
2012-04-10: ships name, sorce
2013-06-13: 
1883: Cross sold it to Forepaugh just before Christmas, 1883.
1884: arrived with the ship "city of Chester" from Liverpool, UK.
1884: Avertised by Adam Forepaugh as the white elephant Light of Asia.
Though the fraud was exposed, Forepaugh continued to extol the Light of Asia for the remainder of the season. Forepaugh announced that he died suddenly at Winter quarters on November 18, 1884.Richard Reynolds.
1885: under the name John L. Sullivan, trained by the black elephant man, Ephraim Thompson.
1932: He died at the Sarasota, FL winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on January 16, 1932. Richard Reynolds

Adam Forepaugh‟s elephant was originally named Othello when bought from the Prince of Wales. His name was changed to Tiny as he was bleached white for the appearance of a white elephant then became known as John L. Sullivan a wonderful elephant that stayed with the circus grandeur for almost fifty years, finally dying of natural causes on January 16, 1932 in the winter quarters of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.Bob Cline

"This is George Denman having completed the march from the cars and dismounted from his horse is leading the herd into Colts Park, Hartford, Ct. 7/9/30. The show carried 34 elephants that season including 3 males surprisingly all tuskless, John, Sammy and Joe. Denman appears quite dapper with his bow tie and riding breeches, all his assistants were expected to wear ties as well as you can see on Cowboy Taylor and Edward Doherty riding "John". This was Denmans 23rd season under Ringling employ, having been in the elephant Dept. with Barnum & Bailey when that show was purchased by the Ringlings. He retired during the 1933 season and was replaced by another old timer Bill Emory. Denman died in 1937."
Buckles Web Log, 06/21/05

"In 1917 the Barnum Show carried 18 Asian elephants, four of which were males. Two tuskers "Pilate" and "Mighty" and two that had no ivory at all "Albert" and "Coco".
To the uninformed, P.T. Barnum and James A. Bailey were long since dead by this time and the show was owned by the Ringling Brothers. Two years later both shows and titles were merged and the 1919 show carried 36 elephants adding three more tuskless males "Sammy", "Rio" and "John". This phenomenon is not all that unusual but I have read that tuskless males in the jungle will instinctly become more ferocious in order to compete with tuskers.
My dad was on the show in 1920 taking care of two camels named "Victor" and "Rosie" and added that the only tusker at that time was "Mighty" and he had knobs on the end of his tusks but for some reason they were flat like door knobs. He also mentioned that when the elephant men mounted up to ride to the train the Ringling elephants raised them up with their trunks and the Barnum elephants used their left front foot. Buckles"

Barnum & Bailey/ Mooneys musical elephants, Buckles Web Log, 07/21/05

Contradictory records:
EEG state death at Baldwin Park, but Buckles Woodcock writes:
"John on the other hand, had a long career with the Forepaugh Show, 4-Paw-Sells, Ringling Bros., and Ringling-Barnum before his death at the Sarasota Quarters on Jan. 16, 1932."

Sources, among others

  • http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/52631/
  • Americas elephants by Bob Cline.
  • Richard Reynolds
  • Page 62, Elefanten in Zoo und Circus, Dokumentation 2 Nordamerika, 1997, by European Elephant Group: Haufellner, Schilfarth, Schweiger
  • The New York Times, April 11, 1884.
  • http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F30D11FA395C15738DDDA80A94DB405B8484F0D3

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