A Zoo icon: Queenie
Postcard of Queenie, Melbourne Zoo elephant, c. 1942
Promotional greeting card of Queenie, Melbourne Zoo elephant, c. 1930
Public Record Office Victoria
VPRS 8850/P1 unit 48
Free for educational use. Contact Public Record Office Victoria for permission to reproduce in other contexts: http://prov.vic.gov.au/copyrightCopyright
State of Victoria
Queenie was a much loved and controversial figure in Melbourne Zoo’s history. A ride on Queenie was a major zoo attraction for over 40 years until she tragically crushed her keeper in 1944.
Visitors to Melbourne Zoo would queue for hours to ride on Queenie’s back for the price of a tuppence. She gave rides around a circuit, where children would leave apples and peanuts on the posts for her to eat. She gave up to 500 rides each day and travelled an estimated 165 000 kilometres during her working life. Queenie was known and loved for her gentle nature.
On September 19, 1944 Queenie crushed and killed her keeper, Wilfred Thomas Mory Lawson, inside her enclosure at the end of her working day.
After this tragic incident the zoo retired Queenie from giving rides and, after public support, decided to keep her as an exhibit. Sadly in 1945, she was put down. The reason given for this was that it was wartime, fodder was scarce and the zoo could not afford to keep her.
Queenie’s Last Ride, Mary O’Brien, The Age, August 9, 2006
150 years Melbourne Zoo, Zoos Victoria, Bounce Books, 2012