05 April 2021

Prince Utah, the Elephant

Postcard of Prince Utah nursing from Princess Alice, at the Zoo in Liberty Park, 1918. From UDSH.

Princess Alice, the Asian elephant, was pregnant when she arrived in SLC in Aug 1916.

During her time with the Sells Flotos Circus, Alice had given birth to 3 elephant calves.  At the time, Alice was the only elephant in America to birth to a living calf (other elephant calves had been born in captivity in Denmark). Unfortunately, none of her offspring survived.

Baby Hutch was born in June 1912 and died of starvation when Alice refused to nurse him and the caretakers were ignorant of how to care for a baby elephant. Baby Tambon was born April 1914 and was also rejected by his mother but was fed incorrectly by his caretakers and died. Little Miracle was born in April 1916 and died a few moths later after catching an infection in Wallace, Idaho. 

On April 29 1918, 20 months after arriving at Liberty Park, Princess Alice gave birth to Prince Utah. Just like his mother, Prince Utah also escaped his Liberty Park enclosure, which greatly upset Alice and she trumpeted and caused general mayhem until he was quickly returned to her.

Prince Utah lived nearly 11 months and died on March 14 1919. Most modern sources state that the cause of death was his mother accidently rolling over on him, yet newspaper articles from the time indicate an autopsy was conducted and found that the baby elephant died of clogged arteries from a fibrous growth in his heart.

That wasn’t the end for Prince Utah. The baby elephant was stuffed by SLC taxidermist Harry Leff and placed on display at the zoo in Liberty Park, the LDS Church Museum, and Hogle Zoo. 

Prince Utah eventually went missing and the mystery was solved by the Deseret News in 1962.  Apparently, souvenir hunters had taken pieces of Prince Utah over the years and he was not fit for public display and removed from the Lion House at Hogle Zoo.  Prince Utah then ended up at Turpin Meadows Ranch in Jackson Hole, WY.  According to ranch owner, John Turner, he had delivered 2 bison to Hogle Zoo and was gifted Prince Utah by Mr. Hogle.  At the Wyoming Ranch, Prince Utah was outfitted with elk antlers and became a tourist attraction until he was eventually discarded.

Sources: Elephant Database (elephant.se); SL Herald Republican 1917-10-14, SL Telegram 1919-03-15; SL Herald Republican 1918-08-05; SL Herald Republican 1919-07-04; SL Telegram 1942-03-24; Des News 1962-11-22

Princess Alice and Prince Utah at Liberty Park zoo, 1918. From UDSH.

Announcement of baby elephant, SL Herald Republican Oct 14 1917

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