Step onto the Medford Tufts campus, and you’ll almost feel a magnetic pull. You may wander around a bit, explore the Tisch roof, maybe the Prez Lawn, maybe stop by Admissions to say hi to us in Bendetson Hall, but ultimately you’ll be drawn toward the heartbeat of campus, the very center of the Tufts universe, the life-source of what makes Tufts run. Where is it? What are you talking about? I hear you ask. Am I being dramatic? I ask myself. Yes...maybe, but also no.
I’m talking about the 5,000 pound, 12 feet tall, 18 feet long statue of Jumbo the elephant, our beloved mascot.
Now, plenty has been written about Jumbo’s life and his significance at Tufts. I’m not here to re-write that, but I encourage you to read about it here and here. No, instead I want to write about why I think Jumbo is so important to the Tufts community, and I’ll do so using elephant fun facts!
Elephant Fact #1: An elephant’s trunk can weigh up to 400 pounds, but they’re agile and precise enough to pick up things as small as a single grain of rice.
At Tufts: Our students can certainly pack a 400-pound intellectually powerful punch and tackle the bigger picture questions. But they, like elephants, can also be nimble and versatile in their thinking and take on the tiny questions and playful conversations. Whatever the academic lift, they can take it on!
Elephant Fact #2: Elephant tusks never stop growing, and the African elephant has the largest brain of all animals living on land!
At Tufts: Tufts students are life-long learners, and they’re also REALLY smart! During their time on ‘the Hill,’ they learn the essential skills to make them successful in whatever they pursue after graduating—asking questions, analyzing data, communicating ideas, reconciling different opinions/sources. But leaving Tufts is not the end of their academic pursuits. Tufts students stay curious and continue growing…intellectually.
Elephant Fact #3: Elephants are the only mammals that can’t jump. Even when they’re running, they have at least one foot on the ground.
At Tufts: Tufts student run wild with incredible ideas, collaborating with each other and professors, to make the world a better place. And while they may run super-fast, and they may reach really high, they keep one foot on the ground to stay rooted in their various communities and efforts so as to make maximum impact.
Elephant Fact #4: Elephants can both learn and feel emotions. If a member of their herd is injured, the group will come and help it.
At Tufts: Our students are incredibly kind and compassionate. As a member of Tufts, you’re a member of ‘the Herd.’ Our students look out for each other, help one another out, and believe in collaboration instead of competition. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of.
Elephant Fact #5: Elephants join humans, apes, and dolphins as the only animals who can recognize themselves in the mirror.
At Tufts: Our students are self-aware. They can reflect on their place in the world and their various identities. They are civically engaged, they are open-minded, and they appreciate the diversity that surrounds them. They know the power of their voices, they want to make a difference, and Tufts provides the resources and opportunities for them to do that.
And lastly, Elephant Fact #6: They can spend up to 16 hours a day eating.
At Tufts: Well….we have great dining hall and dining-to-go options.
So say hi to Jumbo in our virtual tour. You’ll be struck by his calm demeanor and majestic presence. We love him here at Tufts because Jumbo reflects our community values of life-long learning, community togetherness and support, and intellectual playfulness.
At Tufts, Jumbo is more than a mascot. Jumbo is a way of life.