Elephants owned, residing and performing with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus can be found at several different locations, which have been divided up for clarification of record keeping and to give a better idea of herd identifications. They include:
- Ringling Brothers Circus (1884 - 1918)
- Barnum & Bailey Circus (1888 - 1918)
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus (1919 - 1968)
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Blue Unit (1969 - present)
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Red Unit (1969 - present)
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Gold Unit (1988 - present)
- Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus European Tour (1963 - 1964)
- Circus World at Polk City (1974 - 1984
- Ringling Retirement Farm at Williston (1984 - 2010)
- Ringling Brother's Center for Elephant Conservation (1995 - present)
The Ringling Bros Circus was founded by seven Ringling brothers, Albert (1852-1916), August (1854-1907), Otto (1858-1911), Alfred T. (1862-1919), Charles (1864-1926), John (1866-1936), and Henry (1869-1918).
The Ringling Brothers Circus began in 1884 using the title "Yankee Robinson and Ringling Brothers", the only time the Ringlings ever gave themselves second billing. It was a small circus at first, conveyed by wagons, and differed little from scores of other little shows that transversed limited geographic areas.
By the late 1880s, however, the circus had established itself as one of the largest and best-run circuses in the country. John Ringling served as the advance man and Charles Ringling assumed the role of the manager.
"The Ringlings got their first elephants in 1888 "Babe" and "Fannie" (an African) and they walked overland. Mickey Mann became elephants superintendent. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1892: Babe, Jule and Lou were added. G. W. Ezell was superintendent. Some sources also mention the elephants Zip and Queen during this year. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1893: Zip died and Queen was sold to G Hall. The show toured with Babe, Jule, Fannie, Lou, Fanchon, Prince, Duke and Sultan. Mark Monro was elephant superintendent. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1894: By the time Edouard "Perl" Souder took over the herd in 1894 the show moved on 39 railroad cars with 3 more ahead and carried 8 elephants.
1895: 15 elephants: Babe, Jule, Fannie, Lou, Fanchon, Prince, Duke, Sultan, Abdallah, Babylon, Corsair, Emperor, Pasha, Hortense, Trilby. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1896: 12 August Baldy and Jennie were added to the herd. (Now total 17), and at tour start the Lockart group (among them Lockhart Jennie, Lockhart Nelly and Lockhart Charlie) was added. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
The herd ballooned up to 23 and included the five Lockhart elephants from England which the Ringlings later bought and Souder worked for many years.
William Buckles Woodcock
1897: Route book adverts 25 elephants. Keddah was added this year. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1904: The Ringling's purchased 8 elephants from Hagenbeck in 1904 according to Lorenz H. book.[Source]
1905: 24 elephants. James Bailey, sole proprietor of the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus, set up an auction of the showï¿½s equipment but ended up purchasing everything back and sold half of the interest to the Ringling Brothers.
1906: Ringlingï¿½s acquired complete ownership of the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus from James Baileyï¿½s widow.
1907: The brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey circus and ran the two circuses separately until they merged them into one unit 1919, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, when they also moved the winter quarters to Sarasota, Florida.
After the Ringlings bought the Barnum Show in November of '07 they decided to take 4-Paw-Sells off the road.
Now with surplus elephants on hand, eight were leased to the Gollmars and six went to the Barnum Show but upon arrival in Bridgeport a fire in the bull car took the life of the big African male "Mike".
The surviving five brought the 1908 Barnum herd up to 22."
William Buckles Woodcock
There is a new elephant with the show. It is only thirty-six inches high, and is a big feature in the menagerie.
New York clippings 1910
1910: 22 elephants at Ringling, 20 elephants at Barnum and Baileys, and 10 elephants at Forepaugh and Sells.
1911: 21 elephants: Modoc, Baldy, Big Jennie, Lockhart Jennie, Lockhart Nellie, Babe and Trilby. Among added elephants during the years before were: Clara, Judy, Juno, Bessie, Jess, John, Dutch (Duchess), Hattie (Haddie), Sammy, Mary, Hazel, Pinto, Clyde and Wilhelmina. 21 elephants. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968, Circus parades Charles Philip Fox, page 111). From Buckles Woodcocks blog:
1912: Total 28 elephants? Another 7 elephants added from Forepaugh 1912: (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968) 1. Ringling Nelly, 2. Columbia, 3. Veneda (Venita, Vanita, Jenny), 4. Dutch (Duchess), 5. Sells Queen, 6. Romeo, and 7. ?? (presently unknown name)
1918: George Denman listed Clara,Judy, Juno, Bessie, John, Dutch (Duchess), Hattie (Haddie), Sammy, Modoc, Queen, Jennie, Mary, Baby, Hazel, Pinto, Clyde, Nelly, Trilby, Rio, Wilhelmina, Romeo, Venta and Columbia. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968)
1918 Jennie died in Columbus, Ohio.
1919: Merged into Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.