When elephants lived in Central Park

Meet Hattie and Jewel, a pachyderm pair who made their home in what was known as the elephant enclosure at the Central Park Zoo. 

This 1906 postcard reveals what a huge draw they were—thousands of people visted every week to watch them. But it also shows them with chains attached to their legs, a very sad sight.


Jewel was the moody one, arriving at the zoo in 1878 from the Barnum & Bailey Circus. She tried to kill a keeper, hurling him out of her enclosure with her trunk, according to a The New York Times article.

Hattie was young and plucky. In a story about her death in 1922 (keepers weren’t sure of her age) the Times wrote: 

“She became angry on another occasion at a man who tossed a lighted cigarette against her trunk. The man got away. Years afterward he came back. Hattie squinted at him through her little eyes, filled her trunk with muddy ooze and squirted it all over him.”

Jewel outlived Hattie and died in 1928 at 97. Another Times article reported that after a zoo veterinarian found her paralyzed in her enclosure, he shot her three times in the head, ending her life.

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10 Responses to “When elephants lived in Central Park”

  1. Going for a donkey ride in Central Park « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] The park also offered goat carriage rides on the Mall. And elephants. […]

  2. An elephant dies at Coney Island « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] have a long history entertaining New Yorkers. Read more about it here and […]

  3. Angela Miele Says:

    Are there any elephants in the zoo at this time?

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Not in Central Park

  5. The panther on the hunt in Central Park « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] who helped build Central Park and was inspired by the real-life animals at the Central Park Zoo (then called the Menagerie) was an animalier, and his jaguars, lions, and other cats are on display […]

  6. Three little elephants at the Bronx Zoo « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] than 100 years later, zoo officials decided to follow the Central Park Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo and phase out their elephant […]

  7. Lucio Costanzo Says:

    An Elephant in Central Park Zoo was known for it’s pranks. Eating peoples pocketbooks among other things. It died in the 1980’s when it was brought to another location. What was the name of this Elephant?

  8. Vintage NYC Photography: The Central Park Zoo | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] Image via Ephemeral New York […]

  9. A Central Park bison is on the buffalo nickel | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Elephants, monkeys, sea lions, camels, bison—in the early 1900s, the Central Park Menagerie, as it was known, was home to all. […]

  10. The History of Wild Animals in Central Park - I Love The Upper West Side Says:

    […] Elephants were similarly popular during the early years of the zoo, with their enclosure drawing a constant stream of visitors. Hattie, one of the zoo’s two beloved elephants, was noted to have pulled a snowplow following blizzards while she lived in the park from 1903 until her death in 1922. […]

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