Jumbo

Jumbo now means a large size of something, without being defined. For example, the menus of seafood restaurants often feature jumbo shrimp. The original Jumbo was an African elephant, captured while young and exhibited in Britain and the United States. Jumbo spent some years in London, becoming famous and the object of public affection. In 1882, the American showman P. T. Barnum bought Jumbo and shipped him to the US, to the consternation of Jumbo’s British fans. The elephant generated vast publicity, masterfully orchestrated in the usual Barnum manner. His life was not a happy one. He was hit and killed by a railroad locomotive in Canada in 1885. Jumbo had a friend, Matthew Scott, Jumbo’s trainer for more than a decade. Apparently Scott shared his whisky with Jumbo, who was also fond of beer. Scott was an eccentric bachelor who had worked with animals in the zoo where Jumbo resided. Scott was given care of Jumbo and they formed an odd sort of friendship that lasted until Jumbo’s death. Scott apparently spent his last days in a poorhouse, probably lamenting his elephant buddy.

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