When you talk to modern Odessites in Odessa Ukraine today, they will talk about an elephant who rampaged the streets of Odessa. The story is true. This is the origin of this tale."Elephant Sentenced to Death" shrieked a one and a half-inch-high banner in an April 1914 edition of Odesskaia pochta, a local Odessa newspaper. Iambo, an elephant recently transferred to the Odessa zoo, had been sentenced to death for attempted murder of his zoo keeper. Before this story was concluded, Iambo would become a cause celebre not only in the black seaport city of Odessa, but throughout Russia.
According to one of the zookeepers, by April Imabo's entire character had changed. He began flapping his ears, trumpeting in a sinister manner, and worse, bending back the bars of his cage. The zookeeper responded with a few swift blows with a iron rod. Iambo would have none of this, and began repeatedly striking the zookeeper with his trunk. The zookeeper was hit so hard he had to go to the hospital, unconscious, for a week.
This incident was dismissed as the elephant's youthful indiscretion, but a week later the elephant was again causing trouble, rattling and trying to get free of his chains. The circus administrator decided to seek the advice of local city administrators. The chief of police, after taking detailed eye-witness statements, decided the only thing to do was to euthonize the violent elephant. After the death sentence was given, the problem facing the authorities was how to execute the elephant? Various methods were suggested, including stabbing and shooting him (it was decided it would only feel like a pin-prick and enrage Iambo further). It was finally agreed that poison would be the best remedy.
Now circus administrators had to figure out how to poison the beast. A poison orange was lobbed into the cage, but Iambo simply picked it up and threw it back at the zookeepers. Next a second orange was thrown into the cage, it was examined and promptly crushed underfoot. The zookeepers then offered a third fruit without poison and the elephant quickly ate it. Frustrated, the zookeepers decided to change tactics.
Vodka was suggested, a drink which Iambo had a weakness for. It was usually difficult to find vodka at 6:00 in the morning, but the police knew where to find it. The elephant was then presented with a barrel of vodka mixed with cyanide. Iambo stuck his trunk in the barrel, then kicked it over with all of his power.Frustrated, the zookeepers decided another tactic. The military commander was called in to shot the animal.
But the commander refused, saying Iambo's skin was too tough.Soon, the story of Iambo was in newspapers across imperial Russia. The overwhelming majority of Russians rallied to Iambo, wanting to save him.
A local movie production studio even made a movie about Iambo. The circus manager even got death threats and one of the zookeepers was attacked.Meanwhile, the flustered zookeepers contemplated exploding bullets, sleeping pills, and hanging to kill poor Iambo.As a compromise, the circus manger brought in two female elephants, hoping to calm the aggressive elephant. As one of the female elephants was exiting the train, she escaped, running down Pushkinskaia street. This caused a general panic because the public thought insane Iambo was lose.
The she elephant was recaptured and presented to Iambo.Unfortunately, the female elephants womanly charms did not calm the beast. In June the elephant attacked another trainer.
It was decided by the Odessa authorities it was time to kill Iambo. Hundreds of bullets were shot into Iambo. Word spread like wildfire throughout Odessa, all of Iambo's supporters were in tears.The zookeepers labored all night to remove the massive body. The circus manager wanted to transfer the elephant to the anatomical institute with little or no publicity. But word leaked out, and at six in the morning thousands of Odessites lined the streets to see Iambo's funeral procession.
During the autopsy, over one hundred bullets were removed. But the university determined that there was no medical evidence showing that disease had caused Iambo to act so erratically. Iambo's skin was taken to the taxidermist. The legend of Iambo, like so many Russian tales, ended tragically..For more on Odessa, please visit http://www.2odessa.com.When you visit our site you will agree with other travelers, that http://www.
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By: George Hoar