Elephas maximus Linnaeus, 1758


Don Pedro was a male Indian elephant who travelled with the Barnum and Bailey circus during their European tour between 1897 and 1898. When the circus arrived in Liverpool, it became clear that the circus’ second largest elephant was becoming too aggressive for the show. It was decided that the elephant would have to be euthanized, or put down. Director of the Liverpool Museum, the Scottish explorer and zoology collector, Professor Henry Ogg Forbes was there when Don Pedro was killed. Forbes had already visited the circus before Don Pedro’s death and had praised the conditions and welfare of the circus’ animals. The zoology collections benefitted from Forbes’ and Bailey’s connection as the circus also donated a giant kangaroo to the museum which had died in Liverpool. After he was killed Don Pedro’s dead body was moved from Newsham Park Pavilion in south Liverpool to the museum on a heavy wooden cart pulled by a large traction engine in the presence of many local onlookers. At the museum, his body was prepared for display by the museum taxidermists led by James William Cutmore. Don Pedro would become a centrepiece for the museum’s new Upper Horseshoe Gallery featuring the foreign zoology collections. On the night of 3 May 1941 the gallery was badly damaged by fire and timbers falling from the roof. Don Pedro was destroyed in the fire.