All right, I’m not one for sentimental topics usually, especially not about animals. But this is sort of special, and different.
This morning, the veterinary staff of the Artis Amsterdam Zoo had to euthanise Murugan, the oldest male elephant in Europe. He just turned 50 last January. Continuous health problems forced this decision.
Murugan came to Artis in 1954. A girl from Amsterdam wrote a letter to Prime Minister Nehru of India, asking for a male elephant for the Amsterdam Zoo. She got her wish: Murugan was shipped over to the West, and was greeted by hundreds of school kids in the harbour, and later at the zoo. Since Artis is such an insitute in this country (it truly is one of the most beautiful zoos in the world), there are a lot of people who grew up watching the playful Indian elephant in the city zoo. I am not from this city originally, but I vividly remember seeing Murugan when I was about 6 years old, when I visited Artis with my parents.
It was quite moving to see the staff of the zoo on TV last night, making amends with the unevitable. Some of these people have taken care of Murugan for 40 years.
He died this morning, and his two female companions were given a few hours with the body, to say goodbye to it - just like they do in the wild.
I mean, it’s peanuts in the bigger scheme of things, but it still kinda bums me out.