Thursday, July 5, 2012

Elephants at Brookfield Zoo

The first postcard above shows three elephants at the Brookfield Zoo (Chicago Zoological Park at Brookfield). This postcard was published in 1941. According to the information on the back of the postcard:
Brookfield Zoo includes the largest collection of the large land animals of any zoo in the country. Herds of African and Indian elephants, rhinoceros, and hippopotami are shown in their natural environment.
The next postcard is from the 1950s and shows a baby elephant at the Children's Zoo and Farm where children could mingle with many species of wild and domestic young or baby animals.

LIFE magazine had an article about the new Children's Zoo in the August 31, 1953 issue: Zoo's Babies Get Overdose of Love. There is a picture of the children handling the baby elephant and one of the exhausted baby elephant lying on the ground after a day with the children. The year old elephant was said to be be especially unlucky because he was the most popular of the animals.

The last elephant postcard is from the 1960s. At that time, Brookfield Zoo had three Indian elephants and two African elephants. The postcard shows one African elephant (with large ears) and two Indian elephants.

A short history of Chicago zoo elephants is posted on the circusnospin blog. There are currently no elephants at Chicago zoos. Two Brookfield Zoo elephants died in 2009. An elephant that had been acquired to keep the last one company was sent to another zoo after that elephant died. This left Chicago zoos without any elephants for the first time since 1889.

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  1. There is something so compelling about elephants - truly majestic animals.

  2. Lovely cards but I found the article quite unsettling.

  3. I have a very vague memory of going to the Brookfield zoo. But I guess no pictures survive of the outings.

  4. I got to visit this zoo once - very nice habitats for the animals.

  5. At first I thought it was really funny that the baby elephant was worn out after playing with all the children. (We can all relate!) But the article suggests this was a good idea gone slightly awry .

  6. Your postcard collection is huge (and wonderful).

    I wonder if they had problems with the elephant in future? They say an elephant never forgets.

  7. I see that the zoo supported the myth that the animals were in their natural surroundings. Zoos try hard but they can't reproduce those. Great cards.

  8. What a horrible idea to let the children handle the baby animals.

  9. I love elephants but zoos/circuses have always made me cry - I'm a sad sap! Cool cards, though I would've cried if I had been there!

  10. Interesting postcards!

    Those poor popular baby elephants!

  11. Lovely cards. Sad story about the elephants.


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