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“Bolivar” was a male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) which was presented to the Philadelphia Zoo in 1888 by Adam Forepaugh and lived there until 1908. Bolivar was known as a “killer” because he killed at least two men, one of whom offered the elephant a lighted end of a cigar and his trunk was badly burned. The man tried to repeat the “cute joke” and Bolivar grabbed him and crushed his skull. The elephant was kept in confinement, apparently in conditions which might best be described as “inhumane”. He died, according to postmortem pathological report, from arthritis, cardiac, hepatic and splenic lesions. In this paper I hypothesize that the pathological findings were only symptoms of a much deeper problem — an apparent behavior of excessive grinding of his teeth, and in doing so, he destroyed the joints between the mandible and the cranium. It is proposed that the isolation, continuous chaining with iack of usual physical activity led to this behavior.

Recommended Citation

Lippman, H. E. (2000). Bolivar: "killer" elephant or abused pachyderm?. Elephant, 2(4), 52-55. Doi: 10.22237/elephant/1521732226