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The Director of the Zoological Gardens turned out to be an opportunist.

He treated animals as stepping


stones for advancing his own career. He didnt care much about promoting the educational function of
his establishment either. The giraffe in his ZOO had a short neck, the badger didnt even have his own
den, the whistlers overwhelmed by apathy, whistled all too infrequently and somewhat reluctantly.
These shortcomings shouldnt be there, for the ZOO was frequently visited by school groups. It was a
small provincial ZOO with some essential animals missing, like an elephant for example. Efforts were
made to find a substitute for him and as a temporary measure three thousand rabbits were bred.
However, as the country developed, the shortages were gradually replenished through central planning.

And so came the elephants turn. On the occasion of Polands Liberation Day, on the 22nd of July, the
ZOO received a notification that an elephant would finally be allocated. The ZOO employees, fully
devoted to the cause, were delighted. Their amazement was even greater, when they found out that the
Director had written a memo to Warsaw declining the allocation and putting forward a plan for
procuring an elephant in an economical way. My whole crew and I he wrote are aware that an
elephant weighs heavily on the shoulders of the Polish miners and steel workers. In order to reduce our
overheads, I propose to replace the elephant referred to in the letter with one of our own. We can make
one of adequate proportions from rubber, inflate it with air and position it behind the railings. Once
carefully painted, you wont be able to tell the difference between it and the real one, even on closer
inspection. Please remember that an elephant is a sluggish animal, which doesnt jump, run or roll over
the ground. We will place a sign on the railings saying that this is an exceptionally sluggish elephant.
Money thus saved could be turned towards the construction of a new jet plane or the maintenance of
historical churches. Please note that this proposal, as well as the design of the project represent my
modest contribution to our common task and struggle. I remain your humble servant, signature.

The memorandum must have fallen into the hands of an unconcerned clerk, who in a bureaucratic
pursuit of his duties, failed to evaluate the case properly and following the guidelines concerning the
reduction of costs, accepted the plan. Upon receipt of approval, the ZOO Director ordered the making of
a huge rubber carcass, which was to be filled with air. This was to be done by two caretakers, who were
to pump it up from two opposite ends. In order to keep it confidential, the whole job had to be
accomplished at night time. In the meantime the town inhabitants had found out that the real elephant
was arriving and were eager to see it. Besides, the Director was pressing on with the job, because he
expected a bonus once his idea would become a success. The workers locked themselves in a shed,
where a makeshift workshop was set up, and started blowing. After two hours effort they decided that
the grey carcass was only partially filled with air, forming a bulbous, flattened shape which showed little
resemblance to an elephant.

As the night fell, human voices subsided and only the jackals call was audible in the ZOO. The two men,
who were rather advanced in age and not used to such chores, got tired and stopped working for a
while, making sure not to release the air already inside. If we go on like this, it will take us till the
morning one of them uttered. I wonder what to tell my wife when I get back. She wont believe me if
I were to tell her I was pumping up an elephant all night. Sure, you dont blow up elephants every day
the other one agreed. Its all because our Director is a commie. After another half hour they got
tired. The body of the elephant was filling up, but it was still too far off its full size. Its getting harder
and harder- the first worker uttered. To be honest, it is a drudgery the other one agreed. Lets
have a little rest. While they were resting one of them spotted a gas tap on the wall. It occurred to him
that it might be possible to complete the filling up of the elephant with gas. He shared his idea with his
mate and they decided to try this out. On connecting the gas tap to the elephant, to their delight very
soon the animal appeared in its full shape in the middle of the shed. It looked real. The stocky body, the
pillar-like legs, the huge ears and the obvious trunk. The Director, not being restricted any more by any
considerations and driven by ambition to possess an impressive elephant in his ZOO, had made sure that
the model would be very large. First class declared the one who conceived the gas plan. We can go
home now.

At the crack of dawn the elephant was transferred to the specially prepared, centrally located run, next
to the monkeys cage. He looked austere against the background of a natural cliff. A sign was placed in
front of him: Exceptionally sluggish doesnt run at all. Among the first visitors on the day was a group
of pupils from a local school, guided by their teacher who intended to give them a field lesson. He
stopped the whole group in front of the elephant and embarked on his lecture: The elephant is a
vegetarian. He rips out the saplings from the ground with his trunk and consumes all the leaves.

The pupils who gathered in front of the elephant, watched him with amazement. They expected him to
wrench a tree up, but he was just stuck there, motionless, behind the railings. The elephant descends in
direct line from the mammoths, nowadays extinct. Small wonder then, he is one of the biggest surviving
land animals. The more diligent pupils were taking notes. Only a whale is heavier than an elephant,
but he lives in the sea. One can therefore say without any doubt that the elephant is the king of the
wilderness. A light gust of wind swept through the garden. The weight of an adult elephant ranges
between four and six thousand kilos.

At that moment the elephant twitched and took off into the air. For a while he was tossed about just
over the ground, and then was lifted further up by the wind displaying his formidable body against the
background of the blue sky. Rising higher and higher, after a while he turned, displaying to those
watching below the four circles of his widely spread feet, his rotund belly and the tip of his trunk. Then,
carried horizontally by the wind, he sailed over the railings and disappeared behind the tops of the high
trees. Flabbergasted monkeys stared into the sky. He was later found in the Botanical Gardens, where
he burst, impaled on a cactus on his way down. The pupils who were at the ZOO at the time, slipped
back in their school work and became hooligans. Apparently they now drink vodka and vandalise
windows. They do not believe in elephants at all.

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