Maharajah at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens

Male ♂ Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) Maharajah at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens

† Maharajah
ID Number:
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Male ♂ 17 years old
Dead date: 1882
Death reason: disease: pneumonia
Location:Belle Vue Zoological Gardens
ArrivedBelle Vue Zoological Gardens 1872-00-00
from Wombwells Menagerie No.1
Wombwells Menagerie No.1
from Bostock & Wombwells Menagerie (Wombwell No.2 menagerie)
Born:1865 wild
Document updated2009-01-30: image, book
2009-01-30: death reason, birth year 
By 1870 Jennison had handed over the running of the Gardens to his sons, with the majority of the work being handled by eldest son George. Under his direction, in 1871 the zoo became the proud owner of its first four giraffes, and the following year a new elephant arrived, Maharajah, who became one of Belle Vue's most famous attractions. He was purchased for £680 from an Edinburgh zoo called Wombwell's Menagerie No.1, when it was closed down.

The initial plan was to transport Maharajah from Edinburgh to Manchester by train, but this idea was abandoned after the elephant destroyed the railway compartment he was intended to travel in. It was decided that Maharajah and his trainer, Lorenzo, should walk to Manchester, which they completed in ten days with little incident. "Lorenzo", whose real name was Lorenzo Lawrence, subsequently became the head elephant-keeper and stayed at Belle Vue for over 40 years.


In line with the Jennison tenet that everything should earn its keep, Maharajah was not left just to look good in an enclosure and get free meals and for ten years he provided "elephant rides" to the public. He also took part in Whitsuntide street processions and there were reports that he was co-opted into grinding coffee and pulling carts of meat and bricks. Maharaja died of pneumonia in 1882 and in order not to waste a free opportunity, his skeleton was preserved and added to the Garden's Natural History Museum as a large display six years later. Subsequently, in 1941, when the Natural History Museum was decommissioned, the skeleton, along with some other exhibits, was transferred to the Manchester Museum.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GNU FDL).
It uses material from the Wikipedia article " Maharajah at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens ".

Sources, among others

  • http://www.chethams.org.uk/belle_vue.htm

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