Horton the Elephant is a character created by Ted Geisel for his storybook Horton Hatches the Egg and its sequel, Horton Hears a Who! He is an African elephant who, in both of the stories he was featured in, takes on the duty of looking after and protecting smaller creatures. In the process of this, he gets ridiculed by the other animals for doing so, but persists in his task and is eventually rewarded or vindicated for his efforts.
Horton's only appearance in a Warner Bros.-produced cartoon was the Merrie Melodies short based on his first book, Horton Hatches the Egg. In the book and the animated adaptation, Horton is convinced by a lazy, irresponsible bird named Mayzie to sit on her egg while she travels to Palm Beach. This, of course, proves to be not a fun task for poor Horton, as he is laughed at by his jungle friends, and then captured by hunters and placed in a traveling circus. Eventually, though, when the egg hatches, the baby that emerges is an "elephant-bird"; Horton and the baby are returned happily to the jungle, rewarding Horton for his persistence, while Mayzie ends up with nothing.
Horton's second storybook, Horton Hears a Who!, was eventually adapted as an animated television special by Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones in 1970. However, Warner Bros. would have nothing to do with that special until Time Warner's merger with Turner Broadcasting in 1996.