It's traditional at year end to review the lives of famous persons who dies in the preceding 12 months. This year, a death mourned by thousands of Salvadorans was the death of Manyula, the old Indian elephant in the San Salvador zoo.
A newspaper in Calcutta, where the search for a replacement elephant is occurring, explains:
Perhaps the Salvadorans’ fascination with Manyula had to do with the attraction between opposites. Maybe it was the wonder that the sight of the gentle giant evoked in a country nicknamed the “Tom Thumb of the Americas” because of its shape and size.The article describes the sadness in El Salvador with which the news of the elephant's death was met:
To generations of Salvadorans, Manyula was a symbol of serenity and permanence, a calming and benign presence amid the natural disasters and political upheavals that claimed thousands of lives.
“My grandmother first brought me to see her. I had been visiting her for the past 43 years,” a woman told a local newspaper.
Manyula was called the “queen of the zoo” and her enclosure was moved right to the entrance. Now, a small statue with a plaque stating “Plaza Manyula” stands at the spot.
Painters have painted her and musicians have composed songs to her. Manyula by singer Omar Angula is a hit. Salvadorans have posted the elephant’s videos on YouTube and grieved for her on Facebook, the page drawing 9,000 members.
For over half a century, El Salvador had looked to its most famous Indian resident to seek solace amid the civil wars, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, earthquakes and gang wars wracking the country.But the search for replacement pachyderms to live in the zoo is not without its critics. Animal rights activists are protesting against the zoo obtaining another elephant saying:
When she fell ill at 60 this year, the news made the front pages for days. After her death from renal failure on September 21, thousands of mourners — young and old, politician and poor — turned up with candles, flowers and posters as the grand old lady was buried in a very large grave in capital San Salvador.
Now Central America’s smallest nation wants a replacement — or two — for the Indian-born Manyula, the country’s only elephant who became a national icon during her 55-year stay at the San Salvador zoo.
On September 21 Manyula, the only elephant at El Salvador’s Parque Zoológico Nacional de San Salvador, died at age 59 from kidney failure. She had lived in the zoo for almost her entire life, having been abducted from her family in India as a baby, and died without ever knowing the companionship and comfort of another elephant again. We need your help to ensure that the zoo does not acquire another elephant and subject her to a similar lifetime of deprivation.The Indian newspaper notes that the opposition to replacing Manyula only seems to be coming from outside of El Salvador.