12. Hattie the Elephant

Hattie the Elephant, one of NYC's famous animals
Image from Library of Congress

The biggest attraction of the Central Park Zoo was once Hattie the elephant, who was described as “nearly human.” In an article published in 1904, The New York Times referred to her as the most intelligent elephant, even reporting that she understood English. Hattie was brought over from Sri Lanka by German animal dealer Carl Hagenback, who sold her to the zoo for $5,000. With training from Bill Snyder — the man who trained elephants for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus — she learned to play the harmonica and perform tricks. She was very loved but sadly passed away in November 1922 after battling a week-long illness.

In addition to Pattycake, Hattie, and Gus, the Central Park Zoo was also famously home to a “tiglon” named Charles who was donated to the city in 1938. Charles was the offspring of a female African lion and a male Siberian tiger, a rarer combination than the majestic “liger” (offspring of a female tiger and male lion).