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Sir Roger

Asian elephant collected in 1900

Asian elephant collected in 1900

This male Indian Elephant (Elephas maximus) is called 'Sir Roger'. From about 1885 until 1897 he toured the country with Bostock & Wombwell's Menagerie, often pulling a small wagon from town to town. In May 1897 he went to the Scottish Zoo, in New City Road, Glasgow (owned by E.H. Bostock), where he lived quite happily until October 1900.

Then aged about 27 years old, Sir Roger, in common with all mature male elephants, developed 'musth', a condition of male elephants during the breeding cycle. This is caused by the flow of a secretion called temporin from the elephant's temporal gland. This can often be painful and lead to unpredictable bad temper and aggression.

The 'musth' made Sir Roger extremely dangerous to handle and he started to attack the zoo staff who looked after him - breaking an arm and several ribs of his keeper. Eventually Sir Roger would allow no one near him, so that his food had to be thrown to him and his drinking water put down when he wasn't looking. It was also impossible to get into his enclosure to clean it out and the smell from the 'musth' and the accumulating dung became extremely offensive. Sir Roger's menacing attitude to visitors was also giving cause for concern, so the zoo reluctantly decided to humanely destroy him.

Arrangements were made with a Glasgow gunsmith who had an elephant gun and some soldiers with ordinary rifles to come to the zoo. On 6th December 1900 their volley killed the elephant instantly.

After remaining on view at the zoo for a day, the dead animal was skinned and the hide and skeleton were presented to the Museum. The elephant was mounted by the taxidermy firm of Charles Kirk & Co, then based in Sauchiehall Street, who had to remove their whole shop front in order to get him out when they were finished.

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