Tommy The Miniature Elephant

The Perry Brothers Circus offered new and amazing entertainment for the working class people of Te Aro during the depression in the 1920’s.

1929 Perry circus poster

1929 Perry circus poster  

Ref: Eph-E-CABOT-Circus-Perry-1928-02. Alexander Turnbull Library

This circus advertised as the greatest ring show on earth, held the Famous Five Lorenzo’s with their mid-air marvels, in pride of place.  Vaudeville acts and tight rope walkers entertained the adults and the travelling zoo was a huge draw card for the children.

Captain Wizard the wild animal trainer kept the animals in line with his whip.  Performing artists with fabulous names and entertainment options drew in the local crowds.  The Flying Dunbars, the Jingling Jumpers, Miss La La Selbinie  the  Contortionist, Mulldoon Ramp, Freddie  the Clown, the Henry Arco Troupe  with their balancing act, Miss Doreen  the trapeze artist, Alva Zalva the somersault artist  and Ridiculous Gordon, the cycling comedian  all entertained  the crowds.

When the circus arrived in town they would parade up the street with their miniature elephant on the back of the flatbed truck.  Captain Mozalo the ringmaster bought a tiger, a lion and a miniature elephant named Tommy all the way from Europe. Tommy performed the Charleston and Black bottom dances and played his own music.

1928 Perry circus elephant Tommy

1928 Perry circus elephant Tommy

Ref: 1/2-113980-F. Alexander Turnbull Library


I am inclined to think that poor  little Tommy was  a baby elephant. Thankfully today society no longer tolerates the incarceration and training of  wild animals as a form entertainment.



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