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Queenie: An Asian elephant who became famous for her water skiing talents that made her the world’s only water skiing elephant

Ian Harvey

Queenie was a captive female Asian elephant born in Thailand in 1952.

Her water skiing talents brought her fame and she became the world’s only water skiing elephant during the previous century. After being discovered, she was imported to the United States and put on sale in a pet store in New York.

At 6 months of age, Queenie was bought by Bill Green and his daughter Elisabeth, and taken to a private zoo in Vermont. The pre-arranged buying was broadcasted by ‘The Today Show’, American news and talk emission.


Queenie water skiing with Liz Dane, c. 1958.
Queenie water skiing with Liz Dane, c. 1958.

Queenie and Elisabeth bonded and became an attraction for the public. Knowing how to amuse their audience by water skiing, playing the harmonica and even dancing, the team gained fame and were presented by state and country fairs, TV shows, and circuses around the country.

As Elisabeth stated, Queenie was never mistreated during their exhibitions. She claimed that the elephant loved water skiing. Sometimes she would even put her trunk in the water and spray it all over the place because she simply enjoyed playing with water.

A moment that marked Queenie’s career was her water skiing accident known as the ‘Pittsburgh incident’ during her appearance at the Bicentennial Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Queenie fell off her skis and had to be hauled out of the water with a crane. Although everyone panicked and thought that she would be traumatized from the fall, it turned out that Queenie actually enjoyed her unexpected ‘bath’.

Dave Garroway, the program’s first host, on the air.
Dave Garroway, the program’s first host, on the air.

During her career, Queenie appeared on many shows, such as ‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘I’ve got a secret’ and in a series of printed advertisements for Mercury Outboard Motors Company. She was sold to an elephant performance team in Michigan in 1967 and re-sold to Circus Gatti in 1981.

Queenie retired from the circus in 2003 and was sent to Wild Adventures theme park in Georgia to enjoy her pension days.

Read another story from us: Bobbie, the wonder dog: He traveled 2,551 miles from Indiana to return to his owner in the city of Silverton

At the age of 59, one of the most talented animals had to be euthanized due to chronic health problems. It is believed that she was the oldest Asian elephant who’s ever lived in North America.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News