Nugget Casino elephants in United States


Nugget Casino
John Ascuaga, shown in 2005, expanded the Nugget into a major hotel and casino operation with two 28-story towers overlooking Interstate 80 just east of Reno, Nev.
John Ascuaga, shown in 2005, expanded the Nugget into a major hotel and casino operation with two 28-story towers overlooking Interstate 80 just east of Reno, Nev.


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Typeprivate

OwnerJohn Ascuaga
Address 1100 Nugget Avenue
Zip-code NV 89431
Place Sparks
StateNevada
Country United States
Website Website

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Head keepers
of elephants
1963-1980: Jenda Smaha
(elephant trainer)

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Description

Nugget Casino elephants, located at 1100 Nugget Avenue, in Sparks, Nevada, United States .


Comments / picturesJohn Ascuaga, the son of Basque immigrants, grew up on a farm in Idaho and got his start in the hospitality industry as a bellhop.

By age 30, in 1955, he was running a coffee shop in Sparks, Nev., whose menu included Jackpot Steaks and Awful Awful Burgers. For some customers, the slot machines were the real attraction.

That business grew into a hotel and casino. Mr. Ascuaga bought it in 1960 for about $3.8 million, paid from cash flow over time. He expanded the Nugget into a major operation with two 28-story towers overlooking Interstate 80 just east of Reno.

In the early days, entertainers in the casino’s Circus Room included Dick Gregory and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1962, Mr. Ascuaga bought an elephant named Bertha from a circus museum in Baraboo, Wis. Trained to dance and play musical instruments, Bertha proved a durable opening act. She remained the Nugget’s mascot until her death in 1999.

The elephant Bertha was trained sveral years by Jenda Smaha

References for records about Nugget Casino

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2021). Nugget Casino, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at https://www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=543. (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:



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