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December 24, 2010

Legendary elephant continues to attract visitors years after death

Sports

December 24, 2010

Karachi
Even after her death, Anarkali — a female elephant which entertained almost three generations in Karachi — continue to attract visitors at the Karachi Zoological Garden, though in a very different way.
Due to their love for the elephant-deity, Ganesh, visitors from the Hindu community have now learnt how to trick the two staffers guarding the skull of Anarkali at the Karachi Zoo to offer sacrifices to it.
Anarkali used to carry children on her back and most of the young visitors only visited the Karachi Zoo to have a ride on the giant animal.
Now, the skull of the dead elephant has become a source of attraction for the Hindu community in the city.
They bring along rice dishes and other offerings for Anarkali’s skull as part of their religious rituals.
An employee at the zoo told this scribe that the guards usually did not allow such offerings, but some Hindu visitors somehow managed to put different offerings on the skull.
Anarkali’s skull is enclosed in a glass aquarium which is open at the top.
The staff at the Zoo, keeping in mind the sanctity of the elephant skull for the Hindu community, do not want to be strict with the visitors despite the fact that they have to clean such things immediately for preserving the skull.
“Almost everyday, dishes of rice are offered to the skull despite the fact that two guards stand alert there,” sources told this scribe.
Anarkali was brought to the Karachi Zoological Garden at the age of 10 from Burma in 1948.
After entertaining the visitors for decades, it died in 2006 at the age of 68.
An official of the zoo, who declined to be named, said that the ride on Anarkali’s back had been a great piece of entertainment for the children in the days gone by.
He said they used to put coins as reward in its trunk which was later collected by its trainer.
The skull of Anarkali has been put on exhibition in the museum for the visitors and its skin would also be put to

some useful purposes.
Sources in the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) told this correspondent that the skin of Anarkali was being preserved in a room at the zoo using the centuries-old salting method.
They said that the skin was supposed to be stuffed and put on exhibition for the visitors. However, this is yet to happen.
Some experts, when contacted by The News, said that Rs300,000 to Rs400,000 were required for stuffing the elephant skin which could be done at any tannery in the city.