The Matriarch appears at the beginning of the film during the loading, boarding Casey Junior's circus train with the other animals. She taps Mrs. Jumbo in the back when she looks up and impatiently drags her into the train car. Her rump gets stuck in the train entrance while running in, but the circus employees rush up to the car to raise the hinged door and collectively push her through. As the train goes on, Mr. Stork delivers Mrs. Jumbo's baby. At first, the Matriarch and the other elephants coo over the baby, but then become surprised when they see his large ears. They laugh with him and call him "Dumbo". When Casey Junior arrives at the circus grounds that night, the elephants are unloaded to help set up the circus tent. The next morning, the elephants march down the street with the rest of the circus.
After a while, they learn that Mrs. Jumbo is in solitary confinement and discuss it; with the Matriarch and Catty blaming Dumbo for it. When they see Dumbo coming, the Matriarch instructs them to form a tight circle to block him out and "to pretend they don't see him". Timothy Mouse, having seen everything, marches into the circle and frightens them, causing them to scramble in fear of him. He gives them a stern lecture about picking on "little guys" and calling them "overstuffed hay bags" before scaring them again while leaving.
Later, the elephants are part of an act in which they form a "Pyramid of Pachyderms". The Matriarch is the base elephant standing on a large ball as the other elephants climb on top of her back, showing her true strength. Throughout the act, the Matriarch tries to keep the others focused on their work instead of each other, constantly having Prissy losing her footing and falling down on her, smothering her head with her rear. When the pyramid is formed, Dumbo comes to jump onto the top as the climax, but he trips on his ears and hits the ball that the Matriarch is standing on. This leads to the elephants crashing down on each other and bringing down the circus tent. After that, the elephants discuss about what happened, with all of them wearing bandages, ice packs, etc... They learn through Catty that Dumbo is now a clown and that they no longer consider him an elephant.
Near the end of the film, as Dumbo jumps off a burning building for his clown act, he reveals his flying ability in front of everyone. As he flies, he vacuums up some peanuts with his proboscis from a peanut seller's stand and shoots them at the Matriarch and the other elephants as revenge for their bullying and not accepting him as an elephant. The Matriarch and the other elephants are later shown singing in the reprise of "When I See an Elephant Fly" at the film's end, implying that they have finally accepted Dumbo.
House of Mouse
Elephant Matriarch and the other elephants make an appearance in the House of Mouse episode, Super Goof.
- The Elephant Matriarch was a character which inspired people to create another elephant character almost like her named Eloise in Goliath II.
- The animation of Elephant Matriarch and the other gossipy elephants getting spooked by Timothy Q. Mouse was recycled for use in Goliath II for the scene with the elephant herd getting spooked by a mouse.
- The Matriarch was thought to be the main antagonist of the film.
- She has been shown to be incredibly strong (arguably even by elephant standards) during the Pyramid of Pachyderms scene, where she holds the weight of six similar sized elephants on her back while standing on a large ball.
- Admittedly, she started sweating from exhaustion after the formation was complete, but she still managed to hold the formation until Dumbo accidentally crashed into it.