Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vintage Berlin Zoo


[Translation of a lecture given at the meeting of the Union of German Zoo Directors (VDZ) in Rostock on 3 June 1999]

Berlin started to keep elephants in 1857, when the Berlin Zoo acquired the male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Boy. The first African elephant (Loxodonta africana), the cow Jenny, caught by Lorenzo Casanova for Hagenbeck, came to Berlin Zoo in 1868. The splendid elephant pagoda, one of the impressive stylistic buildings which were erected during the era of director Bodinus, was finished in 1873, and housed both Boy and Jenny (Klös, 1969). Four calves were born in the pagoda, all of them E. maximus. On 18 December 1906 a female calf was born to the cow Toni I, who came to Berlin from Cairo via Hagenbeck together with the bull, Harry. The little Editha was sired by Harry during the pair's stay at Hagenbeck Zoo. As the mother did not accept her calf, hand-rearing was attempted, but without success, and Editha died after 24 days. She was the third elephant born in Europe, following a stillbirth in London in 1902 and a female calf at Schönbrunn, Vienna, in July 1906 (who survived until 1944). On 20 October 1928 a second calf was born in Berlin. The father was again Harry, and the mother Toni II. The female calf, Kalifa, was a zoo sensation, and visitors thronged to see her – a newspaper carried the appropriate headline, `Lining up for Kalifa.' She lived for 11 years, but died in 1939 from foot injuries caused by the prongs used at that time to mark off the moat of the outdoor enclosure.

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