Shooting an Elephant … or a Firing Squad for Dumbo (PHOTO)

Shooting an Elephant … or a Firing Squad for Dumbo (PHOTO)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 29

By Alan Hope – Trend:

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Book of Proverbs 12:10

George Orwell’s 1936 essay “Shooting an Elephant,” describing an experience of the English police officer called upon to kill an aggressive elephant in Burma (Myanmar), though widely regarded as the author’s metaphor for his outrage at the British Colonialism, in its essence is a penitence of the guilty narrator, plagued by his conscience for repeatedly shooting, maiming and finally resulting in a horrific slaughter of a peaceful creature, driven to rebellion by its mistreatment.

Disturbingly similar, yet far more horrifying, is the unique and tragic faith of the Indian elephant called Vova, that was initially shot and then squashed to death by a tank on the orders of the Armenian authority in Yerevan (the capital city of Armenia) on June 28, 1970.

Disney’s true-life Dumbo… and more

Vova’s story began, when just like Disney’s Dumbo, a one-year-old calf was separated from his mother and delivered from India to Stalin’s Soviet Union to be trained as a circus performer. Initially sheltered in Russia Vova was transferred to the zoo in Ukraine that specialized in the organization of circus performances. Unfortunately, his keeper Ivan Sherban’s above the call efforts were in vain, for Vova didn’t possess any extraordinary artistic talent and learned to perform only the most primitive of circus tricks. Nonetheless, the affinity of their interactions had kindred the foundation for a sincere and long-lasting friendship between an animal and man, later on strengthened by the war and its hardships.

The War

USSR's entrance into the World War II had forced mass evacuations, including the residents of the Ukrainian zoo. As the zoo animals were rushed away to the far-away-from-the-frontline cities of the Soviet Union, Vova, due to the lack of the necessary vehicle to transport this gentle giant, was left behind in Ukraine. Thus began Ivan and Vova’s long journey, as they had literary walked on foot through the war ravished country to the haven in the Southern Caucasus.

The Long Journey

Along the way, these kindred spirits strangely travelling together had faced many hardships of the war, including sleepless cold nights, hunger and deprivations. They had even come under the fire of Hitler’s Air Force at one point, when Vova had protected his friend from the Nazi bullets by covering Ivan with his massive body.

The final destination

Their incredible journey had come to an end several months and thousands miles later, as Ivan and Vova had reached the Armenian capital city in the fall of 1941. Vova was settled in the half-built Yerevan zoo, freely roaming the grounds since the construction of his habitat wasn’t finished. Meanwhile, Ivan was conscripted and sent to the frontline, only to promptly return due to the elephant’s refusal to obey anyone else, reuniting two friends.

Freedom of the war years

Throughout the war years Vova had led a relatively free lifestyle at the Yerevan zoo. Hauling the heavy materials for the builders he had played an essential role in the construction of the zoo. He had acquired a sort of a hobby, finding a pleasure in assisting stalled cars by pushing them up the steep hill by the zoo. Vova had become zoo’s main attraction, entertaining its visitors and giving children rides on his back.

Years of Slavery

Nonetheless, all of the liberties, so much enjoyed by Vova, were stripped away as a consequence of the completion of his habitat, in the construction of which he had, ironically, played a major role. From that point on the Indian giant was locked-up in the small “apartment,” which seriously limited his ability to get the much needed exercise. Along with the motion constrictions, the ever growing elephant was gravely suffering from the malnutrition, driving him mad and desperate.

The hunger

At first Vova had eaten all the surrounding vegetation at the trunk’s length of his entrapment. When all of it was gone the elephant had made his first attempt for a “salad bar nearby,” going a-wall from the zoo by breaking the cage to reach the grass pasture at the hill nearby. On top of the obvious signs shown by the mammal, Vova’s actions should have had prompted an immediate response from the zoo authorities. Instead, the head of the zoo, Tadevos Yeganian, relating the refusal for the ration increase to the budgetary issues, had “graciously” allowed the broken part of the cage “to stay as is,” thus “providing” for Vova’s access to the pasture.

The family to be not

Rather than to tend to Vova’s mounting medical and nutritional needs, zoo authorities, though stated to the contrary, were more concerned with the possible financial gains to be acquired from the elephant’s procreation. Thus, the situation had deteriorated drastically in 1953, as Vova had started to share his “habitat” with the female elephant called Ticky, expropriated from the Germany as wartime reparation. Up until Ticky’s death, some 15 years later, the pair, anguished by the motion suppression and undernourishment, had tried, to no avail, to produce an offspring.

Vova’s final day

Finally, Vova’s ongoing misery had reached its tragic and yet so predictable conclusion, culminating by his refusal to return to the “prison compound” on the sunny morning of June 28, 1970. While the zoo staff was trying to get the runaway elephant back into the enclosure with help of a fire engine, Vova had broken the heavy chain tied to his leg and had started trunk-beating of the surrounding cages and fences, sweeping away any obstacles on his path to the zoo exit.

Once outside of the zoo, Vova had noticed a parked bus with passengers still inside. The good-natured creature had probably thought of the people in distress, just like the ones back in the days when he favored the hobby of towing the stalled cars up the hill by the zoo, thus, urging him to push the bus forward. On the other side, the bus driver, overwhelmed by the occurrence, had pushed the pedal to the floor, taking off from the bus station in a hurry, while Vova’s tusk was broken. Meanwhile, the snowballing crowd of bystanders stood oddly still, mesmerized by the bizarre scene, still not realizing the degree of the terrible pain being suffered by the injured elephant.

By this time, the gray giant, driven by the mayhem caused by the crowd that had continuously stoned him to wave off the already enraged animal’s irrational movements, was heading towards Yerevan’s main railroad bridge.

Already informed Armenian authorities, without any consideration of the alternatives, such as the use of a stun gun, supposedly stated later on as unavailable at the time, or any other countermeasure present in the Soviet arsenal, had dispatched the military personnel, stationed in Yerevan, to the expected intercept point with the direct “shoot-to-kill-at-the-sight” order. Ivan, who had ignored Vova for some time prior to the described events, had arrived at the bridge as well.

Just like the Orwell’s shot-down and maimed elephant, Vova had received several (this time machinegun originated) bullets to the head from a real-life firing squad, and just like his literary counterpart didn’t pass right away.

Instead, the maimed elephant was subjected to further torture at his “last stand at Alamo,” as he faced the refurbished to a mechanized military carrier, remnant of the WWII (either the lend-leased “Sherman” or the Russian-made “T-34”) tank. Needless to say that Vova, taking on the tank, has lost the battle and, as consequence, his life, when the man-lead tank had ruthlessly squashed the poor animal, ending his misery once and for all.

Fraternal friend’s faith

Witness to the grotesque outcome of the events, Ivan, afterwards falling sick for many months ahead, had fainted at the time of Vova’s death. The tragedy had a follow-up, as not too long after his friend, Ivan had shared Vova’s faith, as he was crushed to death by his Vova’s replacement at the zoo several years later.

Fact turned urban legend

In spite of the fact that many of the Yerevan city residents had bared a witness to Vova's actual demise, the Armenian press of the time, reporting on the incident the following day, had claimed that "the runaway elephant was safely returned to zoo.”

In the truth-absent environment of then Soviet Armenia, the story had turned into an urban legend, growing in details of its story-tellers as time went on. Those details had even went as far as to include the claims of Vova’s corps being stripped down for barbeque meat for the Armenian elite, bearing yet another similarity to Orwell’s essay.

The unfortunate Result

Notwithstanding, the abovementioned events serve as a proof of the fact that the Armenian authorities, starting from the Soviet times, had unjustifiably sanctioned the commitment of a cruel act of final violence against the poor animal enraged by the human mistreatment.

Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Iran unveils data of gasoline and petrochemicals exports
Iran unveils data of gasoline and petrochemicals exports
Pakistani FM to visit Tehran
Pakistani FM to visit Tehran
Loading Bars
Turkey sends off 2nd boron export train to China
First kidney transplant performed in Turkmenistan
Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall in Iran
Iran unveils data of gasoline and petrochemicals exports
New transmission line to provide opportunities for both Georgia’s and EU energy network - expert
Weekly review of key events in Azerbaijan's transport sector
China fines Alibaba record $2.75 billion for anti-monopoly violations
Italy reports 344 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, 17,567 new cases
Azercell’s “Kabinetim” mobile app exceeded 1 million downloads
Pakistani FM to visit Tehran
Funeral for UK's Prince Philip to be held on April 17
Pinterest becomes latest platform to appoint Turkey representative
Italy's economy seen growing 4.1% this year
Volume of cargo loaded, unloaded in Iran’s Bandar Lengeh port announced
Turkmenistan’s growth of trade turnover in 1Q2021 announced
Turkish electrical goods' 1Q2021 export to Uzbekistan spikes
Azerbaijani president's assistant talks Turkic Council media co-op's systematization
Hungary considers Turkic Council member states important partners
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 11
Uzbekistan ready to actively partake in restoring Azerbaijan's liberated territories
Azerbaijan confirms 2,192 more COVID-19 cases, 1,554 recoveries
Turkey did its best in media coverage of Azerbaijan's Patriotic war - presidential administration
Azerbaijani president's assistant meets with Turkic Council's secretary-general
Briefing of Turkic Council's high-ranking media officials held in Baku (VIDEO)
Anti-Turkic campaigns periodically carried out - Azerbaijani president's assistant
Azerbaijan's victory in Second Karabakh War is victory for entire Turkic world - top official
Azerbaijan working to develop ties between Turkic states - president's assistant
Turkic Council developing roadmap for better co-op with Turkic-speaking countries
Turkic-speaking countries to continue to support Azerbaijan - Turkic Council
Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mines on Azerbaijan's lands is concerning - ambassador
Turkic Council's meeting held in Baku (PHOTO)
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for April 10
Kazakh, Uzbek PMs launch construction of new 'Central Asia' int'l co-op center
Turkish Ambassador: I've never separated Azerbaijan and Turkey, both are homeland to me
Buta Airways to Start Operating Flights to Zhukovsky Airport
Turkey's support for Azerbaijan in Karabakh war will always be in our memory - President Aliyev
Azerbaijan's MoD organizes visit for foreign military attaches to Air Force military unit
Turkish-Azerbaijani fraternal relations are at highest level today - President Aliyev
Iran's exports via Jolfa border checkpoint increase
Georgia reports 506 new coronavirus cases for April 10
SOCAR's capex to moderate due to SGC, STAR refinery’s commissioning
Certain licenses issued to setting up enterprises in Iran's Markazi Province
Turkey unveils 2M2021 data on freight, passenger traffic through Ankara Esenboga Airport
Azerbaijani oil prices up
Fitch Affirms SOCAR at 'BB+'
Turkmenistan's state budget revenues surpass initial forecast
Georgian TBC Leasing's secured debt rating equalizes with its Long-Term IDR
Azerbaijani president awards former Turkish ambassador with 'Dostlug' order
President Ilham Aliyev receives Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Erkan Ozoral (PHOTO)
Turkmenistan's GDP grows in 1Q2021
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Iranian currency rates for April 10
Azerbaijan has favorable investment climate - Turkish MUSIAD
Azerbaijani Mine Action Agency continues to clear Gubadly, Zangilan, Jabrayil from mines
India reports a record 145,384 COVID-19 infections
Armenia set up booby traps on Azerbaijan's de-occupied lands - Mine Action Agency
Azerbaijan's rhythmic gymnasts 2-nd in online tournament organized by Finnish Gymnastics Federation
Azerbaijani gymnastics team captures silver in Egypt (PHOTO)
China's top market regulator imposes penalty on Alibaba Group over monopoly conduct
Iran's Isfahan producing 2,100 tons of medicinal herbs
Japanese entrepreneurs intend to increase imports of Kyrgyz honey
Austrian companies eye contribution to Georgian ports' expansion - ministry
Turkey reports 55,791 new COVID-19 cases
Germany to amend law for nationwide COVID-19 response
World Bank says Azerbaijan's consumer market to grow till 2023
Janssen's COVID-19 vaccine under EU review over blood clots
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 718,000 in past day, says WHO
Poland's COVID-19 cases top 2.5 mln
Georgian-Lithuanian co-op facilitates freight transport between China, Europe - Ministry
US accelerator to provide Azerbaijani startup project with big investments
Eurowings to start flights from Dusseldorf to Georgia
NASA's Mars helicopter to attempt first flight
Health Minister hails vaccination in driving down COVID-19 severity in Turkey
Saudi-led coalition intercepts bomb-laden drone towards border city
Azerbaijani president expresses condolences to PM of UK
UN interested in intensifying ties with Azerbaijan - President of General Assembly
Azerbaijani FM, Sec-Gen of Turkic Council discuss issues of mutual interest (PHOTO)
"Georgia Capital" investment company to sell part of its business
Iran's only option on negotiation table - US lifting sanction - Iran’s ambassador to IAEA
Turkmen Helath Ministry opens tender for purchase of medical supplies
South Korean PM to visit Iran for Seoul-Tehran Cooperation
Speaker of Azerbaijani parliament meets with president of 75th session of UN General Assembly (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani president expresses condolences to Queen Elizabeth II
Azerbaijan clearing territory for new settlement of mines in Zangilan district
Azerbaijan aims developing use of wind energy
Russian, Turkish presidents call for restoration of transport infrastructure of South Caucasus
Azerbaijan actively participates in implementation of int’l projects within BTK and North-South corridors
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan digitizes information on oil and gas wells in corporate database
Azerbaijani, Turkish armies Joint Operational-Tactical Exercises end (PHOTO/VIDEO)
International Bank of Azerbaijan opens tender to buy network equipment
Russia always ready for settlement option supported by sides of Karabakh conflict - Foreign Ministry
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan hosts opening ceremony of Visualization Center (PHOTO)
Embassy of India organizes Interactive Webinar to promote Indian spices (PHOTO)
Bank Melli Iran’s branch in Azerbaijan completes Q1 2021 with profit
Uzbekistan receives status of GSP+ system's beneficiary
Turkmenistan's Turkmenhimiya SC opens tender for ammonium nitrate purchase
Turkish business’s interest in Azerbaijan’s Khachmaz district growing (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani defense minister meets with Turkish ambassador
Mine Terror: Armenia's terrifying deceit – Trend’s video project
Georgia and Israel agree on legal employment
All news