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Jumbo The Elephant

Jumbo the elephant

Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • adjective: a describing word
  • origin: history; background
  • handler: a person who looks after and trains an animal
  • adored: loved with great affection
  • main attraction: the most exciting thing to see or do somewhere
  • hide: the thick skin of an animal
  • mascot: a character that is used to symbolize a school, organization or team

Jumbo The Elephant

The adjective “jumbo,” which means , became a common English word in the nineteenth century after an elephant by the same name arrived at the London Zoo. Jumbo the African elephant arrived in London in 1865. While the origin of the name is uncertain, his Sudanese handler may have named him after the Swahili word “Jumbe” meaning . At almost four metres high, Jumbo was the largest known elephant at the time, and became the zoo’s main attraction. Though he was adored by the zoo patrons, the enormous elephant became difficult to control, and in 1882 was sold to P.T. Barnum, of the American Barnum and Bailey Circus. Jumbo’s only trick was showing off his size, and he often toured around the with a dwarf elephant named Tom Thumb. Jumbo the elephant was in Ontario, Canada. His hide was and used as a mascot at a research university in Boston. His name lives on in the Jumbo Jet, the jumbo sausage, and other elephant-sized things.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What might be the origin of the word “jumbo”?
  2. Why was Jumbo sold to the circus?
  3. How did Jumbo die?

Discussion Question: Do you think unique animals like “Jumbo” belong in circuses and zoos? Why or why not?

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