Old Bet

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Elephant hotel in Somers, New York

Old Bet (d. 1816) was a female African elephant. She was the second elephant in America. She was the first to be known by a name. She was about four years old when she arrived in Boston on 24 June 1804. She was owned by Edward Savage and exhibited by him in 1805. He sold her to Hachaliah Bailey for a reported $10,000. Bailey sold her but bought her back.

He leased her to others for exhibition for the rest of her life. On 25 June 1812, she appeared with the Cayetano and Company circus in New York City and thus became the first elephant to be displayed in a circus in America.[1] She was exhibited for years and earned a considerable amount of money.

Old Bet was shot and killed in Shapleigh, Maine, on 26 June 1816 by Daniel Davis, a farmer who claimed the elephant was taking dollars out of the local economy. Bailey raised a monument to Old Bet at his Elephant Hotel in Somers, New York. Her skeleton was displayed in New York City in 1817, and was later acquired by P. T. Barnum for his American Museum.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Ogden, p. 264.

References[change | change source]

  • Ogden, Tom. 1993. Two Hundred Years of the American Circus. Facts On File, Inc.