Johnny, the Elephant from India

Source: Itar Tass

Source: Itar Tass

The Perm Zoo has published an obituary for Russia’s oldest elephant, Johnny, who arrived from India almost half a century ago.

Perm Zoo employees, for whom the death of the 46-year-old Johnny was a real personal tragedy, wrote the following obituary for their departed friend:

“Our elephant Johnny was born in India in 1965. It took thousands of kilometres for this resident of the Indian forests to find his way to Perm. Dutch sailors took him by ship from India. The small passenger was then taken onboard by Baltic sailors and transported to St Petersburg. From there, the small elephant was taken to Moscow on horses. He arrived at the Perm Zoo in summer 1966.

“The Perm Zoo has been celebrating John’s birthday every year since 2000. A birthday cake was prepared for the elephant from 60 kilograms of selected fruits and vegetables. The birthday boy always behaved very sedately, eating carefully and with dignity. John would have numerous guests on those days. The celebration was a success during any kind of weather.

“During the summer heat, the elephant loved to pour water over himself and swim in the pool, particularly on hot days, as well as spray the public with water.

“Johnny developed some habits during his life at the zoo: he was to be fed in the morning, at lunch and in the event. The elephant remembered people who did anything unpleasant to him, always trying to throw something at them or spray them with water. Johnny was able to reproduce the sounds of the human voice and could put together entirely intelligible phrases.

“The Perm elephant also loved to steal equipment such as brooms and hoses. He would scratch his back and belly with the broom and run around his enclosure with the hose, wrapping it around himself. In April 2009, he got a hubcap stuck around his trunk and could not get it off on his own. It had to be by almost all of the zoo employees tugging at it with fire hooks on a rope”.

In late June 2011, the 46-year-old Johnny fell while taking a walk. Zoo employees tried for six hours to get him back on his feet, including with the help of a truck crane, but they had no luck. The elephant died. The cause of death will be announced following an autopsy and examination. He will then be buried in a special biothermal grave.

The zoo employees said in the obituary that they would like to preserve the image in their heads of their favourite pet as smart, loyal, mischievous, “hooligan”, “smiling”, talking and the biggest resident of Perm.

The residents of the city were also greatly saddened by the news of the elephant’s death. “It’s a pity about Johnny. I would like him to be buried in a human way. After all, so many generations of children grew up with him. Even my grandmother remembered him as a little elephant,” zoo visitor Veronika said.

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