Tanya was a big girl. No body shaming here, but the 1971 honorary homecoming queen tipped the scales. And there’s no chance any of her successors will ever break that record unless UNLV brings in a whale to take the honors.
Casino impresario Jay Sarno brought Tanya the Elephant to Circus Circus, where she would waltz through the casino floor when she wasn’t entertaining children on the midway. Tanya could pull a slot handle, shoot dice, and even check blackjack hands. (No word if she hit or stood on soft 17.) UNLV borrowed the outsized animal — adult female Asian elephants stand an average of 7.9 feet and weigh around 5,400 pounds — for its homecoming celebration that November. To drum up publicity, she was attended by members of UNLV’s drill team on the field outside the old student union.
The pachyderm outgrew Circus Circus by 1973; the casino floor could no longer handle her weight. Sadly, she was sold to the Royal Hanneford Circus, but died within a few months around the age of 9. But for one weekend at UNLV, she was an even bigger deal than the Fremont Cannon.