An Elephant on the Mouth Organ

Earlier this month we posted an Audio Curio about Anjalee the elephant, Auckland Zoo’s newest arrival. In this follow-up piece, Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio) introduces us to a much earlier Auckland Zoo elephant named Jamuna.

Jamuna, an Indian elephant, was an Auckland Zoo resident from 1923 until her death in 1965. In the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Sound Collection is a disc of unedited recordings made at the Zoo on the 14th of January 1943, for station 1ZB children’s radio programme.

The recordings reflect zoos of earlier times, in which animals were seen much more as objects of entertainment. Although Jamuna was much-loved, the need to keep elephants in conditions that more closely match their life in the wild was not so well understood.

Children and keeper Ater Ali riding on Jamuna the elephant at the Auckland Zoo (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref. 35-R176).
Children and keeper Ater Ali riding on Jamuna the elephant at the Auckland Zoo (Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref. 35-R176).

In this excerpt,  1ZB announcer Dudley Wrathall is heard with Jamuna, who plays a mouth organ with the end of her trunk and then stands on her back legs in her Elephant House, which today is a function centre at the zoo.

Listen here:

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz