The NY Herald's Wild Animal Hoax of 1874 Created the Republican Elephant


Hoaxes, lies, fear and hi-jinx are fitting for the genesis of the current Republican party icon. Read an interesting history of the political pachyderm icon via

“On November 9, 1874 the Herald published a front-page article claiming that the animals had escaped from their cages in the Central Park Zoo and were rampaging through the city. A lion had been seen inside a church. A rhinoceros had fallen into a sewer. The police and national guard were heroically battling the beasts, but already forty-nine people were dead and two hundred injured. It was “a bloody and fearful carnival,” the article despaired. And the animals were still on the loose!”

“AWFUL CALAMITY,” the headline screamed. “A Shocking Sabbath Carnival of Death.”

"Only if a reader read carefully to the end, would he have found the truth revealed in the final paragraph:

The story goes that, in the week following the wild animal hoax, Nast (at the time a staunch Republican) published an illustration in Harper’s Weekly in which he satirized both the hoax and the Herald’s attempts to scare voters about Grant’s intentions. The illustration showed the Herald as a jackass, disguised in the skin of a lion tagged “Caesarism.” The appearance of the Herald was scaring zoo animals who were running frightened through the woods of Central Park.

One of the animals was an elephant labeled “The Republican Vote.”

The cartoon was captioned “The Third-Term Panic.”

Caravans, something … brown peoples, something … something…



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