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Tusker elopes with circus elephant

30 Aug 2007
Debajyoti Chakraborty, TNN

RANIGANJ (WB): He was tall, dark, handsome and wild at heart. She was city bred, not all that coy. And it was love at first sight.

A huge tusker, straight out of the jungle, raided a circus in the wee hours of Wednesday, freed a female elephant and eloped with her to make a cosy home by a pond in Raiganj. This tale of untamed love has yet another bizarre twist: a second female elephant, said to be "very attached" to the one that fled the circus, has broken down and is grieving for her "mate".

The 26-year-old tusker had entered Chittaranjan town a few days ago, triggering panic among the residents. Wildlife officials were called to drive him out but the beast had other plans--it's the mating season and he was lonely. Early Wednesday, he raided Olympic Circus, which had set up camp in Kumarbazar area of Raniganj, smashed through the tin walls and stormed the stable, where four female elephants were confined. His eyes rested on Savitri--four years older to him--and goaded her into fleeing with him.

The city-bred Savitri apparently fell for his wild charms and followed him like a lamb. Residents have seen the couple roaming together, much in love. The tusker led her to the home he had already chosen, a pond in ward number seven of Raniganj Municipality.

The "abduction" has shattered Chandranath Banerjee, manager of Olympic Circus. Savitri is worth Rs 4 lakh, he says. "The elephant show has been cancelled because another female jumbo, Gayatri, is pining for Savitri, her mate. She has stopped eating," said Banerjee. "We have never seen anything like this. No one could have thought that a wild tusker would come and snatch a female elephant," said another circus official.

The story seems to be heading for a tension-filled climax--much like a Bollywood masala script. The circus officials appealed to the wildlife department to rescue Savitri, and a team of forest experts has already surrounded the pond.

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