41 Years old | female | African | wild
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs, CO)

Jambo is an African elephant currently held at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO. She was born in the wild approximately 40 years ago. Since the death of her companion Malaika in May 2023, Jambo has been held alone and not allowed to share space with the other elephants at the zoo. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo holds 4 other elephants, who all suffer from their facility’s lack of sufficient space and from being unable to engage in their natural behaviors.

Jambo's Story

Jambo is an approximately 40 year old African elephant. She was captured from her natural habitat under unknown circumstances and from an unknown location and imported to the US in 1985. For 24 years, from 1986 to 2011, Jambo–then known as Dumbo–was owned by Joe Frisco and forced to perform in a traveling circus called the Terry Frisco Elephant Act. During this time of her life, Jambo would have been controlled with a painful tool called a bullhook as are elephants still used in circuses today. The Frisco family includes several generations of elephant and exotic animal handlers and has faced numerous allegations of elephant abuse, including Joe’s brother Tim allegedly training a new employee to beat elephants. “What spectators see in the shows is simply an extension of what the elephants do on their own, just glammed up,” Joe Frisco once told a reporter.

In 2010, Jambo killed a groomer between the morning and evening shows at a circus event in Wilkes-Barre, PA. While there were no witnesses to what happened, the chairman of the circus told local media he believed Jambo, “in an attempt to protect [the groomer] from the sparking wires, grabbed him and moved him away.” Other reports indicated Jambo was startled and possibly shocked by the wires and subsequently stomped the groomer. Elephant cognition and behavior expert Dr. Joyce Poole and the animal advocacy organization In Defense of Animals submitted a letter to the county coroner challenging his assessment that the death was accidental, citing elephants’ intentionality not with the objective of faulting Jambo but to underscore the stresses of captivity, which can sometimes lead to fatal attacks on humans. A year later, the Terry Frisco Elephant Act transferred Jambo to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. 

Since the death of her companion Malaika in May 2023, Jambo has been held alone and not allowed to share space with the other elephants at the zoo.

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