Narrating the correlation of elephants as related to their import, groupings, breeding and transfers,
along with other elephant related topics.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennyslvania

The Nay Aug Park Zoo of northeast Pennsylvania acquired their first elephant, Queenie, in 1924. The children of Scranton facilitated a city-wide effort to collect change, funding the purchase. Four female Asian elephants in total were acquired this way, each subsequent animal being purchased within a month of the previous elephant's demise. The zoo built a new elephant enclosure in 1938, several years after the arrival of their second elephant, Tillie. Princess arrived from Iowa in 1966 and lived until 1971, replaced with the zoo's final elephant Toni. Following the closure of the Nay Aug Park Zoo in 1988, Toni was transferred to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

Nay Aug Park Zoo's Elephant Enclosure, built in 1938 and closed fifty years later.
Photo Courtesy of Wendy S

The children of Scranton, Pennsylvania, contributed over $3600 in change to purchase the Nay Aug Park Zoo's first elephant. Queenie arrived in June 1926 from Germany and resided at the zoo until her death in May 1935 due to acute enteritis, or inflammation of the bowels caused by a bacterial infection.

Nay Aug's first elephant, Queenie, was bought after a region wide fundraiser garnered more than $3,000. She was greeted by a crowd of about 25,000 people.
Photo Courtesy of The Times-Tribune

Following the death of the Nay Aug Park Zoo's first elephant Queenie in May 1935, the city began another fundraiser to purchase a replacement elephant. Tillie was purchased from the John Benson Wild Animal Farm in New Hampshire, along with her companion donkey, Joshua.

In 1938, the Nay Aug Park Zoo celebrated Tillie's eighth birthday and built a new enclosure for her and the donkey via the Works Project Administration. The following year, an ailing Tillie was diagnosed by Larry Davis of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus with a 'cold of the kidneys' due to the concrete flooring in the barn. It was replaced with wood. The donkey died twenty years later in December 1958.

In February 1966, Tillie slammed zookeeper George Lowry into a wall with her trunk. She was euthanized later that year (before September), though it is unknown whether it was due to her more aggressive nature or her infected and abscessed feet.

1949: Tillie, the dancing elephant, and her donkey companion, Joshua, are photographed with some visitors to Nay Aug Park Zoo.
Photo Courtesy of The Times-Tribune

Princess Penny
In late 1966, Scranton began a third campaign to purchase a replacement elephant. The Nay Aug Zoo's second elephant Tillie had shortly before been euthanized. Baby elephant Princess Penny arrived in Scranton in September 1966, though died less than five years later in July 1971 due to extensive bloating.

Princess Penny and Jack, a 1-year-old pony who was on a trial visit to the Nay Aug Zoo, get acquainted under the watchful eye of director George Lowry.
Photo Courtesy of The Times-Tribune

After the death of Princess in July 1971, Scranton held their final campaign to replace an elephant for the Nay Aug Park Zoo in Pennsylvania. Toni was purchased from the Children's Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, where she had previously resided for several years.

Toni was transferred to the National Zoo in October 1989 after the closing of the Nay Aug Park Zoo in Pennsylvania. Nay Aug Park Zoo officials originally planned to transfer Toni to Canada, but city residents persuaded to keep her in America. She, just as the other three elephants of the zoo in Scranton, had previously been kept as a single elephant in a concrete enclosure with a concrete yard.

Toni was again the center of debate in 1993 when zoo officials desired to send the twenty six year old animal to Los Angeles to breed with a male. Some Scranton residents desired Toni to eventually return to their town and argued she was too old to bear a calf. The plan never came to fruition.

Toni had sustained an injury to her left front leg in 1975 at the Nay Aug Park Zoo, a problem that eventually lead to her death in January 2006 at the National Zoo. She had previously been successfully treated there for acute kidney disease in 2001.

Toni was a small elephant, and at her peak weighed between 6,000 and 6,500 pounds.
Photo Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo

Contradictory Records
Very little information is listed about Tillie and Princess Penny in the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant. Both elephants are listed with a Temporary Studbook Number, lacking "supporting documentation to validate their identities." Both elephants are also listed as "Lost-to-Follow up," or a "documented animal whose current location is unknown."

The North American Asian Elephant SSP also lists an elephant named Ruth, arriving at the Nay Aug Park Zoo in 1941. She is also listed with both with a Temporary Studbook Number and Lost-to-Follow up. No further information has been found regarding this animal or her existence.

The news article documenting the history of Nay Aug Park Zoo's elephants states Tillie celebrated her eighth birthday in 1938, though they later state she turned forty two between 1965-1966. The North American SSP lists her birth as 1924. The same article also states Tillie was put down in 1966 after she attacked her keeper. A different news article states the "aged and arthritic" animal was euthanized in 1971. She was first given a shot of curare and then a shot of nicotine before she finally died from a bullet shot to her head. If Tillie in fact died in 1971 and not in 1966, this diminishes the Cheryl Kashuba's statement that each elephant at the Nay Aug Park Zoo was solitary and was a successor to the previous resident. Tillie and Princess Penny would have resided together from 1966 to 1971 until they both died that year, replaced by Toni.

The author of the main article for the basis of this research, Cheryl Kashuba, could not be reached to further discuss these animals or discrepancies therein regarding this information.

Karen Lewis, Conservation Program Assistant for the Oregon Zoo and responsible for the maintenance of the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant, has been contacted with this updated information. As stated in the 2010 Studbook, "In our continuing efforts to validate all of the undocumented elephants, we would like to solicit your help by requesting that you review both of these [Lost to Follow up and Undocumented] sections and provide us with any information that might help us locate the elephants that have been lost to follow up, validate the undocumented elephants, or lead us to someone who might be able to provide this information."

Queenie, Female Asian
Unk - Born Wild
Unk - Germany
16 Jun 1924 - Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennsylvania
04 May 1935 - Death

Tillie, Female Asian, SB T2296
1924 - Born Asia
31 May 1935 - Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennsylvania
1966 - Death

Princess Penny, Female Asian, SB T2253
Unk - Born Wild
Sep 1966 - Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennsylvania
01 Jul 1971 - Death

Toni, Female Asian, SB 279
1965 - Born Thailand
Oct 1966 - Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, Iowa
1971 - Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennsylvania
25 Oct 1989 - Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
25 Jan 2006 - Death

>> "Elephants of Nay Aug Park Zoo, Scranton, Pennsylvania" at ZooChat
>> "Toni's History," Smithsonian National Zoological Park
>> "Letter from National Zoo Director John Berry to Zoo Staff About Toni the Elephant," Smithsonian National Zoological Park
>> "Nay Aug Zoo elephant cage" by Wendy S
>> "The people of Scranton can't forget about Toni Townsfolk ponder elephant's future" by Ann LoLordo,, 1993-03-08
>> "Facility Update: National Zoological Park, Washington D.C." by Rachada Simms," Journal of the Elephant Managers Association Vol 18 No 1, 2005, p 13
>> "D.C. Zoo Harming Ill Elephant, Expert Says,", 2006-01-20
>> "Asian Elephant Euthanized," National Zoological Park, 2006-01-25
>> "Young, old campaigned to bring elephants to Scranton" by Cheryl A Kashuba, The, 2010-06-27
>> "Abandoned Zoo at Nay Aug Park" by Cheri Sundra, 2010-08-02

Last updated:
16 January 2011, 04:30 PM by Ryan Easley


  1. AnonymousJuly 31, 2011

    My mom (she's 92) was reminiscing about helping to raise money for an elephant when she was in 1st grade. I googled "scranton baby elephant 1920s" and found your posting.

    She said they brought Queenie to the school in a truck for the children to see.
    "It was a big day."

  2. Very cool! Thank you for sharing.

  3. I remember being a child, and going to see Toni, along with all of the other animals that the zoo had to offer. I loved going to the zoo as well as the park and the pool as a child. Thanks for sharing this piece of information, it educated me on the demise of the many animals at Nay aug. Shanna Welman

  4. You are welcome, Shanna. Thank you for your comments. If you have any pictures of Toni when she was younger I would love to post them!

  5. I wish they would bring back animals. I am a huge animal lover and lovenay aug and it kills me to go up there and not see any there... I know it cost money but i would be the first to start organizing somerhing to bring them back. The kids of scranton need so.ething fun to do amd see when i was younger there was alot . Now nothing , and we wonder whykids get bored and get in trouble. Instead of raising taxes for stupid stuff, dont raise taxes and have a big block party for one week end and all the money raised start a fund for animals i have alot more ideas too .hope someone reads this and does something ...


I eagerly anticipate associating with new individuals with an interest or history in elephants, elephant history and elephant record keeping. If you have further information regarding the animals or locations questioned in the article, please leave a comment or message me in an effort to complete their records for elephant historians.