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Osijek elephant

There is a statue of elephant on the corner building of the main Osijek square (Ante Starčević Square), on the north-western corner of Ribarska ("Fishermen Street") and J.J Strossmayera Street. Many of Osijek inhabitants surely don't know why that statue is positioned there. As always when "old times" are considered, there are many variants and urban legends (and even myths) about the simplest things in the city. So, it doesn't come as surprise that elephant in the city far away from Africa can create many interesting stories.

First story goes like this: sometime after the World War II the circus came to Osijek. The circus needs to promote itself to the inhabitants, so the procession was held through the city, led by an elephant. When the procession were near the end of Strossmayerova street, the elephant just couldn't walk any more, laid down and died. Her death was of natural causes. It sad and all that, but the problem is his carcass was blocking the way of the one of the biggest streets in Osijek. How to remove the carcass from the road of the very large and heavy animal?

Well, at the same corner, there was a well-known butchery, led by two brothers. They took their butcher's tools and knives, and cut the poor animal to pieces right there in the middle of the road, so that the pieces could be removed. This rather dark story is superimposed by much brighter version of it (at least the ending). The poor animal was in fact pregnant and the butchers helped to bring forth an elephant cub. Circus owners could'nt give the cub to the butchers (why would they want to keep the elephant, anyway?), so in gratitude gave them statue of an elephant, which they put on the shop for all citizens to see. From that time, Osijek inhabitants used that place to meet, saying "let's meet at the elephant".

Osijek elephant 01

Other, more serious and probable story is dated back in 19th century. Owner of the store in that corner building put that statue as symbol of his establishment. He probably got the idea in Hungarian town of Pecs, where similar statue was displayed on the lottery, hardware and grocery shop named "At the Black Elephant". Some historians think that statue actually represents economic growth and wealth of Osijek in that time. The Osijek city center was always full of shops and banks, which is still the case.

Author of the statue is not known. It was damaged during the Homeland War from 1991 to 1995 and restored in year 2000 by Osijek sculptor Marijan Sušac.

Osijek elephant