10 Pop Culture Elephants (Plus 4 Reasonable Facsimiles)
You'd have to look far and wide to find a child who doesn't like elephants! An animal so big, so extreme, and which comes with a nose that can do things was destined to be a pop culture favorite. Here are some the "biggest" elephant characters, past and present.
Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is the star of a series of popular children's books by David McKee. First published in 1989, the books focus on how it's okay to be different. The Elmer books were turned into a series on British television. Elmer was also the name of an elephant puppet who appeared on Chicago TV in the 50s and 60s.
In the 1967 TV series George of the Jungle Shep was George's "pet". The comically stupid title character thought Shep was a dog and treated him as such. Shep responds by acting like a dog. Shep also appeared in the 2007 version of the TV show and in the live-action 1997 movie.
Snorky is a member of The Banana Splits Club, a musical group of four costumed characters in The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, a TV show that aired from 1968 to 1970. The series was put back into production for The Cartoon Network in 2008.
7. Colonel Hathi
Hathi is an older elephant who leads an elephant clan in the Indian jungle of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. In the 1967 Disney movie, he is called Colonel Hathi as he drills his troop of elephants and tries to relive his younger days in the Maharajah's service. The word hathi means "elephant" in Hindi.
Manfred, one of the main characters in the Ice Age movies is a woolly mammoth, an extinct member of the elephant family that roamed North America and Europe until about 10,000 years ago (a small subspecies survived until 1700 BC). In the second movie of the series, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Manny fears he is the only one of his species left until he finds a mate, and later on encounters a small herd of mammoths.
Bart Simpson won Stampy the elephant in a radio contest. His life as a pet didn't last long, but everyone remembers Stampy. He appeared in three episodes of The Simpsons TV show and The Simpsons Movie, and is also referred to in other episodes.
Ungawa! Tantor, a word meaning "elephant" is the elephant that Tarzan calls when he needs to stomp something flat, or catch a ride through an area with no vines to swing on. Tantor appeared in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs books, various live-action films, and in Disney's animated Tarzan movies.
Babar is an orphan elephant who grew up to be king of the forest after his education by humans in the big city. He and his wife/cousin Celeste raise a family and teach them life lessons through their adventures. The series of French children's books by Jean de Brunhoff began in 1931. Brunhoff wrote seven Babar books before his death in 1937, and his son Laurent de Brunhoff continues the series to this day.
Dumbo, the title character of the 1941 Disney feature film, was born with abnormally large ears. He is ridiculed for his deformity until the other elephants learn he can use those ears to fly! Like Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, the story of Dumbo shows children that it's okay to be different. The film is also known for the tear-inducing separation of a child from its mother, which is a recurring thread in most Disney classics.
Dr. Seuss' elephant Horton appeared in two of his books, Horton Hatches the Egg in 1940 and Horton Hears a Who! in 1954. In both books, Horton endures ridicule and hardship in order to do the helpful and ethical thing with no promise of a reward. Despite the facts that the book contained barely 2,000 words, Horton Hears a Who was adapted into a feature film in 2008.
Then there are the characters who are supposed to be some other kind of animal, but we recognize them as elephants anyway.
Mr. Aloysius Snuffleupagus is known to his friends on Sesame Street as Snuffy. In his first two seasons on the show, adult humans never saw Snuffy, leading the audience to believe he only existed in Big Bird's imagination. The Snuffleupagus species differs from the elephant in their lack of big ears.
Heffalumps (along with Woozles) were originally part of Tigger's tall tale which became shape-shifting elephantine goblins that haunted Winnie the Pooh'sÂ dreams. The Heffalump cartoon dream sequence is reminiscent of Pink Elephants on Parade from the movie Dumbo. The Heffalumps finally got their own movie in 2005 called, surprisingly enough, Pooh's Heffalump Movie. In this adventure, the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood get to know a young Heffalump named Lumpy and make friends.
In the Star Wars universe, Banthas are huge beasts of burden used on the desert planet Tatooine, and exist on other planets as well. Banthas are covered in fur, have no trunk, and sport curly horns instead of tusks. An Asian elephant named Mardji played a Bantha in the first Star Wars movie in 1977.
Oliphaunts (also known as mÃ»makil) are beasts from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth that appear to be elephants but are many times the size of everyday elephants. They are seen used in battle in the second and third movies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
See also: 10 Famous (real life) Elephants.