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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rock Springs Animal Man Meets Death

Alert reader, Jackson Edward Wilson of Chester, sent me an article he discovered on microfilm from the May 3, 1911 edition of The East Liverpool Evening Review. It describes a violent elephant attack on a trainer which occurred while attempting to load the animal onto a circus freight train. The trainer and his elephant “Daisy” had appeared in Rock Springs Park the previous season.

Apparently elephant attacks are not a new phenomenon. Google the subject and you get dozens of hits, including some gruesome videos. But why do elephants inexplicably seem to snap and turn on their trainers? It must be the combination of being in a confined area, having been taken from their herds and families in Africa and Asia, being trained using a heavy rod with a metal hook on the end called a “bullhook”, and their enormous intellectual capacities lacking stimulation.

Rock Springs Animal Man Meets Death

Little Elephant at Park Last Year Commits Deed

James Hildebrand Was the Victim

Keeper Prodded “Daisy” and She Promptly Ran Tusk Into Him

Dayton, Mo., May 2 – (Special) – James Hildebrand, employed as a trainer for Hall Enterprises, while engaged in loading several elephants on a train for shipment to an eastern circus, was attacked by Daisy, the smallest of the elephants that were exhibited at Rock Springs Park last season.

The animal suddenly turned on Hildebrand, who had the animals in (his) charge for a number of years, picked him up and pierced his body with his tusk, tramped on him and threw him 30 feet, killing him instantly.

Hildebrand was well known to local patrons of Rock Springs amusement resort, having spent last summer here in charge of the elephant that killed him and two others. On orders issued by Mr. Hall, the proprietor, the elephant was shot.

Mr. Hildebrand was known by local people, many of whom talked to him during his stay here, He was devoted to his “baby” elephant.

A very tramatic and dramtic story, but the part about tossing the man 30 feet left me wondering how that could be possible, so I did a little digging and found some more facts in The New York Times.

It was also confusing to me that a male elephant would be called “Daisy”, but I found a third article in The Yellowstone News dated May 6, 1911, which called him “Monte”. The Nevada Daily Mail added some additional details including the fact that Hildebrand was 45-years old and that Monte was considered “the most docile elephant in the herd.” It went on to explain that the western show was “The Kit Carson Wild West Show” and included the subtitle, “Crowd Screams in Horror and Women Faint as Body of Man is Mangled.”

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