A Large Challenge

In 1923, the Zoo got its first elephants, Empress and Queenie. They came with other animals by ship to San Francisco and then by train to San Diego. Dr. Harry and head keeper Harry Edwards went to the station to meet them. When the elephants were led out of the train car, they stopped and refused to move, apparently having had enough of traveling. Then Dr. Harry realized that no one had arranged for a way to get them to the Zoo. None of the trucks available were big enough to carry them. It was 9 o’clock at night. The two Zoo men found themselves in quite a predicament. Then Dr. Harry thought that the elephants were probably used to being ridden. He laughed and said to Edwards, “Harry, did you ever ride an elephant?” Edwards rather boldly replied, “No, but I can.” With a boost, Dr. Harry scrambled up onto Empress’s shoulders—and she didn’t protest. Edwards got up on Queenie, and the men were able to guide the elephants out of the train station, walking slowly along Fourth Street, up Laurel Street, and finally inside the Zoo gates. You can imagine the startled looks they got along the way!


Beginnings 1916 - 1926
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