Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in United States

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Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

Owner1919-1926 Charles Ringling (-1926)
-1967 John Ringling North
1967-1971 Irvin Feld
1971-1981 Mattel, Inc.
First elephant arrived1919
Last elephant left2017
Closed down2017
Place Venice, Florida
Country United States
Website http://www.ringling.com/

Directors1919-1925: John Patterson was Menagerie Supt

Head keepers
of elephants
1919-1933: George Denman
1933-?: William "Bill" Emory
Relevant literature


Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, in Venice, Florida, United States , was founded in 1919 and the first elephant arrived in 1919. The last elephant left in 2017. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus closed down in 2017 in Venice, Florida, .

Comments / picturesElephants 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)

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, shortened RBBB, or Ringlings today, was a 1919 merge between Ringling Brothers Circus (1884 - 1918) and Barnum & Bailey Circus (1888 - 1918).

At the close of the 1918 season, due the loss of both Al and Otto Ringling, as well World War I railroad restrictions, the surviving brothers decided to unite Ringling Bros. Worlds Greatest Shows and Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth.
The Baraboo, Wis. facility was closed and this was the combined elephant herd in Bridgeport with the new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows.

Buckles Woodcook

23 Ringling Bros elephants in 1918
George Denman listed Clara,Judy, Juno, Bessie, John, Dutch (Duchess), Hattie (Haddie), Sammy, Modoc, Queen, Jennie (died 1918), Mary, Baby, Hazel, Pinto, Clyde, Nelly, Trilby, Rio, Wilhelmina, Romeo, Venta and Columbia. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968, by Chang Reynolds, Bandwagon)

18 Barnum and Bailey elephants in November 1918
The Barnum and Bailey herd at November 1918 contained: Katie, Albert, Bessie, Coco, Lizzie, Fannie, Nellie, Baby, Jennie, Topsy, Jap, Mighty, Queenie, Mary, Juno, Hattie, Pilot and Jess. (Source: The Ringling elephants 1888-1968, by Chang Reynolds, Bandwagon)

1918: "When the 1918 season ended and the decision was made to combine the shows in the Bridgeport, CT. winter quarters, the Ringlings brought 23 elephants with them. Those 23 are reflected in my list I sent you. Barnum & Bailey already had 18 of their own. Barnum & Bailey had Pilate (male Asian died on October 27, 1918 in winterquarters. Ringling lost Mary on March 19, 1919 and the shows sold Baby to the Rockford, Ill. Zoo or Park bringing us the 38 elephants that became the 1919 RBBB herd." //Bob Cline

John Patterson was Menagerie Supt. from (1907 Barnum & Baileys) merge through 1925. George Denman was elephant man at Ringling for 26 seasons, having been in the elephant Dept. with Barnum & Bailey when that show was purchased by the Ringlings. He retired during the 1933 season (died in 1937) and was replaced by another old timer Bill Emory, wo also was in charge. //Buckles Woodcock

1919: March 29, "Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows" debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The posters declared, "The Ringling Bros. Worlds Greatest Shows and the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth are now combined into one record-breaking giant of all exhibitions."
1919-11: Charlie was added.
1920: 45 elephants. (New York clipper)
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in United States United+States
These are the combined Ringling and Barnum elephant herds at the shows quarters in Bridgeport about 1920 showing the 36 elephants taken on tour. Denman can be seen standing between rows two and three with hands on hips. It appears that they marched the herd through the neighborhood on the days the weather permitted.
"George Denman #4," Buckles Web Log, 2008-04-11

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in United States United+States

RBBB Elephants Parade Down Fifth Avenue, New York, 1921. The circus was a resounding success through the "Roaring 20s", making John Ringling one of the richest men in the world.//Buckles Woodcock

1921: Four elephants exported back to Hagenbecks in Germany from USA: Jess, Barnum Queen, Veneda, and Mary.
1922-09: Palm was added
1922-11-05: new elephants: Marcella, Emma, Alice, Bingo, Mary and Joe.
1923-11-10: new elephants: Blanche, Joyce, Mabel, Rose, Eva, Minnie, Dolly, May and Briggs.
1924: 44 elephants. 36 went on tour: John, Dutch, Ryo, Judy, Hazel, Romeo, Topsy, Alice, Juno, Joe, Babe, Mabel, Lizzie, Queen, Bessie, Nelly, Fanny, Jenny, Emma, Katie, Mary, Wilhelmina, Joyce, Barnum Nellie, Palm, Modoc, Clara, Hattie, Sammy, Marcella, Pinto, Bingo, Trilby, Blanche, Albert, Rose. Remaining 8 at Bridgeport: Barnum Bessie, Coco, Eva, Minnie, Dolly, May, Briggs and Charlie.
1924: Nelle sold to Houston Zoo.
1926: Charles Ringling died.
1929: Ringling Brothers purchased American Circus Corporation (which consisted of Sells-Floto Circus, Al G. Barnes, Sparks Circus, Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, and John Robinson Circus). When John Ringling purchased the American Circus Corporation in 1929 the five circuses included 57 elephants ranging from 13 with Hagenbeck-Wallace to 9 with Sparks.
1929: Ringling is owner of 90 elephants, among them 10 asian bulls, a world record.
1930: 2 elephants sold before tour, Eva to Erie Zoo, Sammy to Detroit Zoo (euthanised there in 1938).
Records about from Bob Cline
Certainly the Ringling elephants are as much confusion as youll ever run up against. Remember by time John Ringling bought the American Circus Corporation in 1930, he owned about 90 elephants, roughly speaking about 1/3 of the elephants in America. This will be the elephants that were on the Ringling show prior to 1919 when the combined with the Barnum & Bailey show. They leased some for the John Robinson tour, the rented some to the Gollmars, they owned the Adam Fore-paugh Sells Bros and the Barnum & Bailey shows along with two live births, buying selling and a few executions. This list is only for the elephants that travelled on Ringling prior to 1919. //Bob Cline

1933: Ringling tours with 40 elephants (8 came from Sparks Circus) to Chicago: 1. Alice, 2. Sparks Alice, 3. Babe, 4. Sparks Babe, 5. Bingo, 6. Blanche, 7. Bonnie, 8. Clara, 9. Dolly, 10. Duchess, 11. Eva, 12. Emma, 13. Fannie, 14. Hattie, 15. Hazel, 16. Jess, 17. Jenny, 18. Joe, 19. Joyce, 20. Juno, 21. Katie, 22.Lizzie, 23. Mable, 24. Marchella, 25. Mary, 26. Sparks Mary, 27. Minnie, 28. Little Modoc, 29. Modoc, 30. Sparks Myrtle, 31. Nellie, 32. Palm, 33. Pinto, 34. Barnum show Queen, 35. Rosie, 36. Little Tillie (Sparks Queen), 37. Topsy, 38. Little Trilby, 39. Wilhelmina, 40. Yasso.
1938: Due to labor trouble, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus tour closed in Scranton, Pa. on June 22, and the circus returned to winter quarters at Sarasota, Florida. Many of the outstanding features, and a trainload of physical equipment, were sent from Sarasota to augment the Ringling-owned Al G. Barnes-Sells Floto Circus at Redfield, S. D. From Redfield until the close of the 1938 seasonCircus Historical Society, Al G. Barnes & Sells-Floto Routes, courtesy of John Polacsek and Bob Cline

1938: The RBBB elephant herd was added with 17 elephants from Al G. Barnes-Sells Floto Circus: Trilby, Tony, Kas, Jewel, Frieda, Lois, Modoc, Mary, Dolly, Floto Jennie, Josky, Ruth, Babe, Barnes Jennie, Palm, Topsy and Minnie.

Records about from Bob Cline
1938 was also the year when Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus closed, and the elephants were shipped to Al. G. Barnes winter quarters in Baldwin Park, California.
1940: Joe was executed.
1941 elephant herd, word document 2012 from Robert Cline:
1. Alice 2. Babe ( Sells ) 3. Babe ( Barnes ) 4. Babe ( Wallace ) 5. Blanche 6. Clara 7. Dolly 8. Emma 9. Eva ( Ringling ) 10. Eva ( Wallace ) 11. Jennie ( Barnes ) 12. Jennie ( Floto ) 13. Jennie ( Ringling ) 14. Jennie ( Wallace ) 15. Jewel ( Barnes ) 16. Jewel ( Little ) 17. Josky 18. Judy 19. Katie ( Barnum ) 20. Kas 21. Liz 22. Lizzie 23. Lois 24. Mabel 25. Marcella 26. Mary 27. Mary ( Sparks ) 28. Minnie 29. Modoc ( Big ) 30. Modoc ( Little ) 31. Myrtle 32. Nellie 33. Palm 34. Palm 35. Pearl 36. Peggy 37. Pinto ( Ringling ) 38. Pourgouis/Puqua 39. Rosy ( Ringling ) 40. Ruth ( Big ) 41. Ruth ( Little ) 42. Sudan 43. Tillie ( Big ) 44. Tillie ( Little ) 45. Tony 46. Topsy 47. Trilby ( Barnes ) 48. Trilby ( Wallace ) 49. Troby ( One Eyed )

11 elephants dead of poison in Atlanta, Georgia
1941-11-05: Alice,
Wallace Liz (Lizzie),
Mary and Blanche died.
1941-11-06: Tillie and Mabel died.
1941-11-07: Lizzie died.
1941-11-08: Clara died.
1941-11-09: Palm died.
1941-11-14: Peggy recovered from the poisoning, and was sent back to the show, but died in Pneumonia.

1942-08-04: Four elephants died in the 1942 Cleveland Menagerie fire. Ringling Rosy, One Eyed Troby, Kas, and Wallace Rosie.

1944The Hartford circus fire, which occurred on July 6, 1944, in Hartford, Connecticut, was one of the worst fire disasters in United States history.[1] The fire occurred during an afternoon performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus that was attended by 6,000 to 8,000 people. The fire killed 167 people[2] and more than 700 were injured. (Wikipedia)

1947: Ringling bought 5 elephants from Circus Hagenbeck, and hired Hugo Schmitt as elephant trainer, who stayed on Ringling until 1971.
1948: The Ringling Circus has a reported 49 elephants (Billboard 27 mar 1948). Katie died.
Chang Reynolds names 36 elephants on RBBB for 1948.
"Referring to my handy, dandy notebook I came up with this list for the 1955 Ringling elephant herd. The number in the show was "Mamas in the Park" which I have shown numerous pictures of on the Blog (little elephants in baby carriages). Elephants are listed in order of their seniority with the show. #22-28 are the seven punks added in 1953 "The Seven Wonders" and #29-48 are the twenty trained the previous winter by Louis Reed and Smokey Jones. Hugo Schmitt only presented the finished product in the ring since he had returned to the show with the understanding that he wouldnt have to be involved with overall operation.
Baptiste Schreiber arrived with elephants #49-50-51 arrived just prior to departure from Sarasota, bringing the herd to 51. The final elephant, "Louie" an African (name later changed to Diamond) was delivered to the show while playing Detroit in July. I might add that three more older elephants were left in Sarasota, "Ringling Jennie", "Eva" and "Wallace Jewel" making a grand total of 55.
1955 Ringling Brothers & Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Robt. "Smokey" Jones Ele. Supt. Hugo Schmitt Trainer Baptiste Schreiber
1. Marcella 2. B Modoc 3. Myrtle 4. W Trilby 5. B Ruth 6. B Babe 7. Jewel 8. Lois 9. Tony 10. Josky 11. S Mary 12. W Babe 13. W Ruth 14. Judy 15. Topsy 16. Kernaudi 17. Minyak 18. Mutu 19. Sabu 20. Icky 21. Emily** 22. Tex 23. Padmuh 24. Tara 25. Yamina 26. Rani 27. Seetna 28. Raji 29. Siam 30. India 31. Calcutta 32. Mysore 33. Cutie 34. Trixie 35. Luna 36. Lucy 37. Henry 28. Betty 29. Cass 30. Mo 41. L Mary 42. L Eva 43. Pinky 44. Suzanne 45. Fannie 46. Jean 47. Adele 48. L Rajee 49. Lizie 50. Blondie 51. Bambi 52. Louie**

"To Henry Penndorf", Buckles Web Log, 2007-06-07

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in United States United+States

1955: In 1955 the Ringling-Barnum herd consisted of 52 elephants traveling with the show and three at Sarasota winter quarters - an astounding group of 55 elephants. The magnitude of this army of elephants was captured by New York Times photographer Patrick Burns as they walked down Second Avenue March 27, 1955 enroute from the Mott Haven railroad yards in the Bronx to Madison Square Garden at Eighth Ave and 49th St (Chris Berry, 2021)

Records about from William "Buckles" Woodcocks Blog at http://www.bucklesw.blogspot.com/
"Circus left Sarasota with 51 and the small African "Louie" (later "Diamond") had been delivered in Detroit, making the herd 52 elephants. While there I noticed them building a pit show type truck that would take two punks ahead of the show reducing the herd to an even 50. As fate would have it, in St. Petersburg while the show was playing it's final week, "Big Jewel" was struck by a car while the herd was marching to the train at night and died the following day in Tampa. So the show only returned to Sarasota with 49".//Buckles Woodcock

1958: 20 or 21 elephants sold:

Records about from Bob Cline
I've accounted for all 20 elephants they sold in 1958 and this Miami Rare Bird sale would make 21 elephants. I have no clue at all on this one.

1963: Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus European Tour: John Ringling North framed an indoor cirus to tour Europe, bought an elephant act from the Chipperfields and hired two more acts in Europe to fill out the three rings.//Buckles Woodcock
1968: Together with 5 elephants bought from Chipperfield Circus for the European tour, came 13 elephants with Circus Wiilliams, those 18 elephants famed the new developed Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Red Unit (1969 - present). The original elephants were labelled as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus Blue Unit (1969 - present)
1972: Hugo Schmitt brought 19 elephants from UK, 12 of which had performed with the Billy Smart Circus and 7 were untrained.
1980-81: six elephants arrived from Burma with a star branded on their hip (Bonnie, Nicole, Alana and Icky who went to Axel Gautier, Siam and Bangkok who went to Gunther Gebel-Williams). Babe's is a star outline on both her hips. She measures almost ten feet tall.
Six female Asian elephants arrived to RBBB from Burma, via German animal dealer Firma Ruhe: Blue unit: 1.Alana, 2.Bonnie, 3.Icky II, 4.Nicole, Red unit: 1.Bangkok and 2.Siam II.

1995: the circus opened the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida for the breeding, research, and retirement of its Asian Elephant herd.

2017-05-21: The final performance of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus from May 21, 2017 at Nassau Coliseum.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in United States United+States

References for records about Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2021). Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at https://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=455. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus on elephant-news.com

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is mentioned on Elephant News:

DateLinks which opens in new window
2020-09-23White oak welcomes the largest asian elephant herd in the western hemisphere - Elephant News
2020-09-08North america’s oldest elephant dies after dramatic decline in health - Elephant News
2016-04-23Circus elephants retiring after providence shows - Elephant News
2016-01-19Stephen payne: ringling bros. animals are well cared for, despite columnists unsupported claims - Elephant News
2021-04-01Armpits, the circus and more: a dozen historic photos taken on april fool's day: 1963: ringling bros. circus elephant - Elephant News

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