Jumbo, The Elephant Who Only Respected One Man


Jumbo the elephant is famous mainly for two things, being frickin’ huge and the fact he was hit by a train. But we think Jumbo should be better known for the bromance he had with his trainer, Matthew “Scotty” Scott. 

First things first, yes, Jumbo the elephant was killed by being hit by a train in 1885 and he’s noted as being one of the biggest African elephants ever, we didn’t make either of those things up. Jumbo lived most of his life as an attraction in London Zoo but came to worldwide attention when he was bought by P.T Barnum to appear in his now legendary circus.

Jumbo was billed by Barnum as “the biggest elephant in the world” and tens of thousands of people paid to see him every single week despite the fact he didn’t have an act, he literally just stood there and let people be awed by his massive size.

Pictured: Jumbo headbutting a fucking train!
On an unrelated note, here’s an artistic representation of Jumbo headbutting a fucking train!

Jumbo was cared for almost his entire life by the aforementioned Matthew Scott, who reportedly raised the elephant from a malnourished, sore-covered calf rescued from a French zoo so shitty it’s mostly famous for selling off the animals it housed for meat, to a 12 foot tall, 12,000 pound living hunk of beef and tusks. Understandably, Scott and Jumbo became very close in the years that followed to the point that Jumbo would throw super-sized tantrums if Scott took a day off.

Fearful that Jumbo would rage-punch his way out of his cage and trample all of the zebras, officials and London Zoo basically gave Scott carte blanche to do whatever the hell he wanted in regards to Jumbo. And one of the first things Scott did after hearing this was build Jumbo a harness so that he could give rides to children, for which he charged a penny. Scott was allowed to keep all of the proceeds from this endeavour, which supposedly netted him a small fortune by the time Jumbo was unfortunately killed.

In an effort to stop Jumbo throwing tantrums Scott even took to working on his days off and during holidays, however, officials at London Zoo were still fearful of what Jumbo would do if any harm ever befell Scott because they genuinely had no idea what they’d do if Jumbo lost his temper when Scott wasn’t there to ask him to chill. As an idea of just how strong Jumbo was, he broke the chains meant to hold him in place so often that the zoo eventually stopped bothering trying to restrain him and he disliked being in his cage to such an extent, they basically let Scott walk him around the zoo untethered to stop him getting annoyed.

This culminated in a letter sent from the Zoo’s then superintendent to the Zoological Society which basically asked them to figure out a way to kill Jumbo if the time ever came when Scott wasn’t able to look after him.

Scott was deemed so intrinsic to Jumbo’s health that when P.T Barnum bought the elephant for his circus, Scott was hired to look after him and he pretty much spent the rest of Jumbo’s life by his side. The pair were so close that Scott even slept in Jumbo’s train carriage so that he wouldn’t have to wake up alone. Jumbo in turn became highly protective of his friend, even once gently picking him up out of bed when Scott forgot the pair’s evening ritual of sharing a beer together. Yes, you read that correctly, Jumbo elephant ended every day by drinking an ice cold beer with his best friend and he once got annoyed when his friend forgot.

When Jumbo was unfortunately struck by a train and killed in 1885, Scott was stayed by his side the entire time and openly wept sweet, manly tears as his friend passed away.

So the next time you grab a beer, think about raising your glass to Jumbo, the elephant who quite literally only respected one man.