If you go to Tours then visit the Musée des Beaux Art. As you enter its courtyard wander to your right, around the old Lebanese Cypress tree, and head for the old stables. There, in a dusty, forlorn and almost forgotten corner of the yard you will find the stuffed remains of an old Jumbo, or Fritz, the Asian elephant.
Fritz came to Tours in the summer of 1902 as part of a long European tour of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Born free and wild, Fritz, under the supervision of one Mr George Conklin, was the largest elephant in the Circus.
The European tour began in 1897 and visited many countries including Germany and Austria. It came to an end, five years later, in 1902, the year Fritz was killed.
Perhaps, when he arrived in Tours old Fritz thought to himself, “I’ve just about had enough of this!”. For, after his final performance on his last evening in the Tours and chained to four other of his kind, Fitz they set off across Tours to the station with its steam train and circus coaches ready for his transportation to the next showground.
En route Fritz made his break for freedom. He easily snapped his man-made chains, ran amok, uprooted trees and crashed his way around the city. When he was finally caught he was bound and strangulated by cords and chains because “he was aggressive”.
Fritz, a bull elephant, was one of 18 elephants, 10 large and 8 small, on the European tour. In total six elephants died during the tour all a part of The Greatest Show on Earth.See below for sources of information used in this blog, for further images of Fritz in his heyday and of the Barnum & Bailey Circus:
http://bucklesw.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-parade.html www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=3124 www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=465&show=1 www.elephant.se/location2.php?location_id=1239&show=5