Band director and consummate showman Mike Leckrone rode an elephant into Camp Randall Stadium on Oct. 15, 1988.
In fall 1988, head football coach Don Morton’s Badgers had lost their first five games and were heading toward a 1-10 season. Spirits at Camp Randall were waning, so in an effort to liven things up, Leckrone decided to put on a halftime show based on circus music. Clowns, circus wagons and other props were brought in to give the show a circus feel. But Leckrone wanted more. “I had the bright idea that we had to have animals and I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world to ride an elephant into the stadium,” he said in Tales from the Wisconsin Badgers by Justin Doherty.
He got more than he bargained for. Leckrone got on the elephant and rode down the ramp midway across the field — and that’s when nature called. “The elephant stooped to let me down and then he dropped a pile right on the 50-yard line,” Leckrone recalled. “I was facing the crowd and I heard a roar. I didn’t know what was going on until I looked around and there it was.”
The start of the second half was delayed because the UW maintenance staff had to hose off the field. Despite trailing just 7-6 at halftime — and creating a three-ring circus — the Badgers lost to the Fighting Illini, 34-6.