Italians, who know their history, are aware elephants and the Roman Empire don’t mix. However, this morning, Boston’s Little Italy welcomed 4 Asian elephants on Hanover Street. The peaceful ambassadors were representing the RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY® circus and were greeted with traditional North End hospitality.
Traffic was stopped and a police escort was provided throughout the route. Tourists and amused pedestrians along Commercial and Hanover streets watched the peaceful convoy of 4 large animals and their handlers.
Once at the Prado, the elephants Tonka, Mabel, Siam and Luna were greeted by many local children and adults. A prepared meal of hay, bread, and vegetables was waiting for them. An atypical North End brunch, but these guests did not come for the pasta or the pizza. While Asian elephants are smaller than their African cousins, they had a formidable presence on the small streets of the neighborhood.
Beforehand, the circus’ Ashley Vargas and members of Ringling Bros. World Famous Clown Alley provided entertainment.
During the “brunch” Ryan Henning, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Animal Care Specialist, talked about the animals themselves and Ringling Brothers’ animal conservation efforts. He stressed that while these animals work hard, they are also provided great care after they no longer perform.
Audience members were eager to ask questions and Mr. Henning was happy to answer. He explained that these animals eat on average 300 lbs of food a day and drink about 100-150 gallons of water. He pointed out that that is why Mabel, the youngest of the four, who is 8 years old, weighs about 5000 lbs. One of the many visiting schoolchildren asked about the elephants age. Mr. Henning explained that Mabel is one of the youngest at 8, but Assan their oldest working elephant (not at the brunch) is 57 years old.
The special guests were also treated for some desert. While Mike’s Pastry is a favorite among two-legged tourists, these four-legged ones opted for watermelon instead. Elephants have a bit of a sweet tooth, and sugary fruits are part of their diet.
After the meal the elephants returned to their temporary home inside the Garden, to get ready for their first show tonight at 7PM. RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY® are performing at the Garden starting today and continuing over the weekend.
Photos below by Gabor Korodi:
Photos below by Mary Marenghi: