This is a president and the elephant he killed.
Teddy Roosevelt killed 512 animals in a single hunting trip.
A lion. Like this one — and eight others. Five common elands,
and, oh, a crocodile. He and his son Kermit
killed all of them, and 497 more, on one trip in 1909.
These days, a lot of people aren’t fans of big hunting trips.
So if you made historical figures explain themselves,
how would Teddy Roosevelt defend his massive kill list?
He might say he explained it all in his 1910 book on the
subject. when he went on the safari, just after his
Presidency, he was a conservationist. He and Kermit only kept 12 animals for themselves
and the rest were eaten or used in a museum.
The trip wasn’t for fun — it was sponsored by the Smithsonian, and
they collected more than 11,000 specimens for science.
That’s simply how conservation worked, and safaris like his were the best way to share
animals with the world. After all, scientists thought the mountain
gorilla was a myth until the early 1900s — so people had a lot to learn.
He even wrote that, “game butchery is as objectionable as any other form of wanton cruelty or barbarity.”
Still, TR’’s kill list was massive, and it’s hard for modern conservationists to
understand killing 15 zebras. He also said that creeping after game, “made
our veins thrill.” That leaves it up to you: did TR explain himself?
Or was his kill list is an indictment?