Animal Studies Journal


This book, as the sub-title suggests, largely concerns the history of an elephant, Samorn, who, as a gift to Australia from the king of Siam, resided at the Adelaide Zoo from 1956 until her death in 1994. The book may appeal to readers who are interested in the way that a zoo works, or in the history of zoos. In places the book offers a great deal of detail, for example long descriptions of the disagreements between ‘egotists’ on the board of the Adelaide Zoo, or about the negotiations to procure Samorn. However, it provides an interesting glimpse into the functioning of the Adelaide Zoo and the governing board of that time. Although Sumerling has focussed her book around the history of one particular elephant, Samorn, she has also included in her story information about the three elephants that preceded Samorn at Adelaide Zoo, information about animal traders, the purchase of elephants, and the quarrels of the zoo governance.