Queenie the elephant causes pandemonium at Seattle's White City amusement park on May 28, 1909.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 2/21/2006
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 7652
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On May 28, 1909, Queenie the elephant escapes in White City, a short-lived amusement park located in Seattle's Madison Park neighborhood. A ruckus ensues and some slight damage is done before the elephant is recaptured.

Dishevel in the White City

Queenie was being moved from her tent to another part of the park when two small white dogs crept up a little too close to her heels. Typically, the elephant would have been on a chain, but her keeper, Mike Glasscock, chose to guide her only with a prod. Unencumbered, Queenie quickly gave chase upon being spooked by the dogs.

At first, the dogs seemed to enjoy the fun and managed to stay far enough away to avoid being trampled. This only angered Queenie more as she tore through the park. Two women fainted when the animals raced past. The dogs scurried under the merry-go-round, but Queenie crashed into it, breaking two hobbyhorses in the process. Realizing the danger they were in, the dogs spotted a hole under a nearby fence and scampered away to freedom.

Once they were out of sight, Queenie calmed down and happened to notice some delicious oranges and apples at a nearby fruit stand. The stand's owner wisely got out of the way as the elephant came over and began helping herself to some tasty snacks. As Queenie stuffed her mouth with fruit, another man from the animal tent snuck up behind and attached a chain to her leg. A stake was quickly driven into the ground, holding the elephant at bay until her trainer, Bernard Dooley, arrived to set things straight.

Don't Worry, It's All Under Control

White City park manager Ed Bayliss blamed the pandemonium on Mike Glasscock, whom he felt was a little too sure of his control over the giant pachyderm. Queenie was usually very receptive to trainer Dooley's handling, but not so to Glasscock.

Soon after Queenie was safely ensconced in her tent, a more horrific incident occurred at the park. This time a fox terrier owned by the manager of the animal menagerie wandered too close to a cage containing a Bengal tiger. In a flash, the feline reached through the bars, pulled the dog inside, and tore it to shreds.

Bayliss told reporters that the public had nothing to fear from the animals, as there was a railing to keep sightseers from getting too close. He urged upcoming visitors to the nearby Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition to come see the ferocious lions, jaguars, tigers, and hyenas for free before White City officially opened for the season on June 6.

Sources: "Elephant Escapes in Park," The Seattle Times, May 30, 1909, p. 26.

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