Sziam
Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) at
Budapest Zoo in Hungary

This record may be a duplicate record with Plai at Unknown
dead elephant ☨ ♂ Sziam  dead elephant


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Alternative name: Siam
Taxidermy locationBudapest Zoo, Budapest 5, Hungary

Identification

EEP nr0001

Description

Species:Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Male ♂ maybe about 54 years old (estimated age)

People killed:1: elephant keeper István Szokola
Origin
Born:* 1890? wild
Birth place: in Thailand unspecified location
Imported:1897 by King Rama V Chulalongkorn of Siam
Freight:by ship
Death
Dead: 1944-09-14
Death reason: killed: destroyed during the siege of Budapest
Burial: 1944-00-00, at secluded part of the Zoo (where the giraffes' runway is today)
Locations - owners
Present / last location:Budapest Zoo, in Hungary

Date of arrival

1900-01-30Budapest Zoo
from Vienna Zoo

1897-11-11Vienna Zoo
from Holy Roman Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria

1897-00-00Holy Roman Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria
from King Rama V Chulalongkorn of Siam

King Rama V Chulalongkorn of Siam
from Thailand unspecified location

Record history
History of updates2021-09-16

Latest document update2021-09-16 16:20:36
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This record may be a duplicate record with Plai at Unknown
Biography

† Sziam is a dead Male ♂ Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), , who died 1944-09-14 at Budapest Zoo, in Hungary, . Official death reason described as destroyed during the siege of Budapest.

Taxidermy locationThe Taxidermy remains of this animal is within the Taxidermy collection at Budapest Zoo, in Budapest 5, Hungary.

Origin


Sziam was born wild 1890? at Thailand unspecified location. and imported 1897 by King Rama V Chulalongkorn of Siam, by ship


Comments / pictures

Records about Sziam from EEPEuropean Studbook for Asian elephants state following records for the asian elephant Sziam:

0001 M ~ 1890 WILD WILD WILD ~ 1899 NONE Capture SZIAM
BUDAPEST 1 Jan 1900 001546 Transfer
14 Sep 1944 Death

Source: EEP studbook for Asian elephants online



Siam, who came from Vienna as a gift from Franz Joseph, has been a resident of our Zoo for almost half a century. Already in his life, all sorts of legends took off. One such story, already mentioned in several places in the late 1920s, was an animal of Methuselah age, which Napoleon had brought with him from his Egyptian campaign to France and then gifted from there to Vienna when he married Mary Lujza. According to this, he should have been older than a hundred years old when he arrived in Budapest.

Of course, not a word from the novel story is true. Siam was only a few years old when she arrived, who, based on the size of her crate, could not be much taller than two meters. And its history began with the fact that in 1897 Siam, the then king of present-day Thailand, V. Rama (Csulalongkorn), the grandfather of the current ruler, who ascended the throne in 2016, went on a European cruise. During the trip, of course, he also met Franz Joseph, to whom he presented a young elephant. The Animal became a resident of the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna on November 11, 1897, and in 1900 it was donated by József Ferenc to the Budapest Zoo. So Siam was named after her country of origin.

Until the end of the First World War, the nose gift, always referred to as "His Majesty's gift", took place in the early 1900s, but the delivery had to wait until the special crate was completed and the railway carriage was properly converted. cool weather was not conducive to transportation, so Siam finally arrived on June 30. By then, the runway fence had also been reinforced, for which railway rails were used again: these were given to the Zoo as a gift by the Minister of Commerce, Sándor Hegedüs.

According to the news, Siam was already behaving dangerously with her caregivers in Schönbrunn, and a tragedy was connected to her name in Budapest. As early as 1907, two accidents occurred. In April, Siam grabbed his caregiver, István Szokola, with his nose, cut him to the ground, and even trampled him, so the unfortunate man had to be taken to hospital. The wounded caregiver was replaced by his brother next to Siam, but it didn’t go well here either because the elephant wounded him on his Feet. Later, when István Szokola recovered and was finally able to work, he insisted that he work with Siam again. Everything went well for a while, but the following year, in September 1908, Siam attacked again, and this time the caregiver suffered such severe injuries that he died at Bethesda Hospital the same day.

The causes of the accident have since been explained in several ways. According to contemporary news, the caregiver was caring for the elephant’s skin just as he accidentally wounded him with the rough brush, and Siam was furious about it. He was later the one who told the story that Siam's fang ached, and in his pain he pressed the caregiver to his fangs with his nose. There were also those who made politics out of the matter, suggesting that the murderous elephant, with whom he had already had problems in Vienna, was gifted to Pest by the ruler precisely to make trouble here. What is certain is that the work of elephant caretakers is dangerous work, and especially around elephant bulls, but at the time, not much was given to occupational safety.

Incidentally, it cannot be said that Siam was specifically bad in nature. On the contrary, he proved to be a very clever animal. In fact, it was with the tragically deceased caregiver that they invented the "fun" of asking the audience not for delicious snacks, but for pennies, with which they then stumbled upon the nurse, who "exchanged" the coins for the right amount of beets and apples. It can be said that this was not exactly a bad idea, as Siam was smart enough not to put money in his mouth, and thus at least the willingness of the visitors to feed was diverted into a controlled bed, as this was the only thing the animal got from the Zoo. he got it for him anyway.

This custom persisted later, in the 1910s, ’20s,’ 30s. Of course, the old crown was replaced by the new one, and that by the blade, but Siam has always adapted to newer monetary systems and denominations. And that wasn’t easy for people either, especially in times of inflation. However, Siam's muzzle was so sensitive that it could even distinguish denominations. In 1925, for example, when there were no more coins at all due to the inflation of the crown, only banknotes, the hundred-crowned banker was no longer accepted because it was not worth a carrot by then.

Siam was finally destroyed in the winter of 1944, during the siege of Budapest. His remains were then buried in a secluded part of the Zoo (where the giraffes' runway is today) without a better solution, and then his Skull was exhumed in the 1950s and then exhibited for decades in the Elephant House's visitor hall, right there, where the statue of Ganesha stands today.
Reference list

References

Koehl, Dan, (2021). Sziam, Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) located at Budapest Zoo in Hungary. Elephant Encyclopedia, available online retrieved 24 May 2022 at https://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=1546. (archived at the Wayback machine)


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Categories1944 deaths | Budapest Zoo Taxidermy | 1890 births | EEP | 1897 imports | Elephants from Budapest Zoo | Hungary | Mankillers | Asian elephants


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