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

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Zoo de Vincennes

From Wade Burck's "Circus No-Spin Zone:"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Vintage Vincennes Zoo Elephants
Above photo 1935, and below, 1960. Does anyone have any idea where/when the idea of spikes on the ground to keep elephants back out of the moat came about, and there were some amazingly "creative" spikes used in the past? From what I have noted it seems to have been prevalent in Germany, Russia, and Poland. Or was it an era thing more so then a national thing?
Posted by Wade G. Burck

This question posted on Mr. Burck's blog has remained unanswered. Without first referring to vintage zoo photographs, I can only list several zoos in America that used the spike barrier to prevent elephants from falling into a dry moat surrounding their exhibit, or spikes placed on rail barriers to keep elephants off the fence line.

Referring to the first picture featuring an African elephant, it appears to be an African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). does not list any African elephants located at the Paris Zoo, or Zoo de Vincennes, at the time indicated. More information is sought regarding this elephant's identity.

Two Cyclotis elephants are listed in the Paris Zoo's history at

Three year old Coco / Philippe was imported from Sierra Leone in July 1963. At an unknown date, the male elephant was transported to the Sevilla Zoo in Spain. He resided there until his death in 2002. More specific information is requested regarding this animal.

Year old Jimbo was imported from Gabon in June 1970 and resided in France until October 1972. He was transferred to the Prague Zoo for four years until his death in July 1976 due to kidney and myocardium degeneration.

Paris Zoo Vincennes at

Update 05/22/2011
Wade has shared more information regarding the spikes and moat at the Vincennes Zoo with a 1935 article in 'Popular Science.'

Popular Science, August 1935, Page 18
Courtesy of Wade Burck


  1. Radar,
    Here is another picture of the enclosure at Vincennes in 1934 and a brief description of the purpose of the "spikes." Scroll down to page 18.

    Popular Science - Aug 1934 - Google Books Result

    Wade Burck

  2. Radar,
    My thoughts on the spikes around moats is that because it was a common practice in ancient India to "spike" gates to a fortress/palace, as well as surrounding moats in a effort to stop rival war elephants from getting close, and then breaking in the doors, to zoologist's and animal collectors/dealers it made perfect sense to continue the practice from iron spikes(I have seen some that were at least 5 inches long) to jagged rocks(effort at "naturalistic) to broken glass(readily available product during war time) embedded in the concrete, although I have read where the elephants would kick the glass, breaking it down so as to have a place to stand closer to the treat's which were encouraged back in the day. You have to wonder if they had disallowed feeding, if keeping the elephants off the moat wall would have been an issue?

    Wade Burck

  3. Thank you for sharing, Wade. The link did not come through with your comment but I updated the article with the photo and description you found.


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.