visitors will remember the site of our Children's Farm as the former
enclosure for " Kirsty ", our Indian elephant. In 1987
for humanitarian reasons, Kirsty was moved to Chester Zoo where,
in a group of elephants, we felt she would be happier and might
the ensuing years showed that Kirsty was in reproductive terms "
non-cycling " and unlikely ever to breed. It was decided
by the UK Elephant Management Group (a consortium of different zoos)
that she be moved to the new enclosure at Dublin Zoo, which she
would share with several other females.
space thus vacated at Chester could be used by a " cycling
" female from another zoo, with more chance of breeding success.
1997, an Indian elephant calf was born at Chester, the first of
many we hope, and we are pleased to have played a small part in
former house and enclosure have been converted to a walk-round Children's
Farm, staffed almost entirely by people contributing much of their
time on a voluntary basis, but under the supervision of senior zoo
Kirsty went walkabout
Elephants Have Toes?
My Four year old twins need to know if elephants have toes?
is the sort of question I hate ! Hate because the answer can be
'yes' or 'no', depending on how rigorous and academic
the questioner is being.
If the question means: Do elephants have frilly bits at the ends
of their fore and hind limbs? - then the answer is 'no'.
the question means: Do elephants possess the standard pentadactyl
limb of land vertebrates? - then the answer is 'yes',
although their limbs have been adapted through evolution to support
their great weight. The digits are embedded in a soft cushion of
white elastic fibres enclosed within a fatty matrix. The bone structure
is intermediate between that of a human (plantigrade, where the
heel rests on the ground) and that of the horse (digitigrade, where
the heel is raised off the ground). Elephants have 4-5 digits on
their forefoot and 3-4 on their hindfoot.
suspicion is that the teacher means the first question . . .
Elephants really scared of Mice?
Victoria and Emily all of Giffnock Primary School wrote asking if
it was true that elephants are scared of mice.
O'Grady; Director-Secretary of Glasgow Zoopark responds:
practical experience is that elephants are not frightened
of mice or rats. In fact, if there is an infestation of hundreds
of rats, as I once saw in an old zoo down in England, the rats will
even nibble at the elephant's feet when it is lying down sleeping,
causing significant injuries.
think the reputation for being frightened arose because elephants
are easily frightened by sudden, unexpected sharp movements. A bolting
rat moves like greased lightning, and this would make anything rear
is another historical link between Glasgow and elephants as evidenced
by the memorial to Major Archibald Douglas Monteath to be
found in the Necropolis graveyard, lair 13 of the Upsilon
area. It cost £800 when built in 1842, which was a lot of money
back then. As an officer in the East India Company one would be
justified in wondering just how such an expensive memorial could
be afforded from such modest employment.
apparently, during one Maharaja's procession in India, one of the
elephants stampeded and ran amok. It was Major Monteath who was
spurred into action, chasing after the elephant he caught it and
managed to bring it under control. No mean feat when you consider
an angry elephant is a formidable juggernaut when in motion.
elephant had been carrying a casket of precious stones and jewellery,
and it was these which the Major took as payment for his efforts
in bring the animal under control, and these which provided the
finance to build the memorial after his death.
instance of the exhibition of an exotic animal near Glasgow is recorded
in the papers from Hamilton Palace.
April 1706, 'the man who brought the Elephant to show her grace'
was paid two guineas (£28 - 8 shillings Scots), whilst his servant
was paid a dollar (£2 - 18 shillings Scots).
do not at present know the species, sex, or age of the elephant.
Other questions which present themselves include:
did the elephant came from originally?
did it get to Great Britain?
did it get to Hamilton?
was the name of the owner?
how long and where did it stay in Hamilton?
did it go next?
is, remarkably, another record of an elephant in Scotland in 1706.
An elephant died near Dundee that same year (see Clinton Keeling:
Where the Zebu Grazed (1989)). Were these actually the same animal?
Probably, because there could not have been that many around at
who can provide any answers, please send us a message!
Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland is grateful to
his Grace the Duke of Hamilton for providing access to the original
Hamilton document and for granting permission to include this information
in the Glasgow Zoopark website.