Randwick & DIstrict Historical Society: FLASHBACK

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

MOORE PARK: In 1880 the first steps were taken to transform Billy Goat Swamp into the Zoological Gardens, now the site of Sydney Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools. By 1884 it was sufficiently developed to warrant public access.

In 1906 it covered an area of 15 acres (8.9ha) and, despite continuing problems with funding, flooding and outbreaks of disease, had become a most popular destination as it underwent rapid expansion. By 1917 its position had become untenable and it was relocated to Taronga Park.

Its first attractions included the elephants Jessie (pictured) and Jumbo, the latter a gift of the King of Siam. They would provide thousands of rides a year to enthusiastic passengers. Whilst Jessie’s fate is uncertain, Jumbo attacked his master in 1894 and was kept in confinement until his death in 1896. Buried on site, he was later exhumed and purchased by the Australian Museum where today he stands tall in its skeletons room.

Robert Booth


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