How Ivan the Terrible sent the elephant into exile

"Russia is the homeland of elephants." Most often, this phrase could be heard in Soviet anecdotes, ridiculing the attempts of ideologists to prove that all the most advanced in the history of mankind was created in the USSR. True, some sources claim that a similar phrase appeared in the 18th century, and was uttered by a certain Spanish traveler who saw the bones of a mammoth in the Kunstkamera.

Of course, it is impossible to call our country the homeland of elephants, but the very first elephant appeared in Russia a long time ago, back in the days of Ivan the Terrible. It all began with the fact that the English queen presented the Russian tsar with lions, which were placed in a deep moat not far from the Kremlin, so that everyone could see these fierce predators.

The Persian Shah Takhmasp I decided to present Ivan the Terrible with an even more elegant gift and sent an elephant to a distant and cold country. Thus, the shah tried to establish good relations with Russia.

True, there was only one way to deliver the huge animal to Moscow - on foot. Having overcome a huge distance, the elephant appeared before the eyes of the formidable ruler and unexpectedly fell to the ground of the Giant, with difficulty 200 archers were able to lift. The Arab, who brought the elephant to Russia, explained that the animal was simply tired of the months-long journey, but Ivan interpreted this in his own way - the animal bowed to him.

Moved by this event, Ivan the Terrible ordered to feed the elephant in plenty, and the driver accompanying him was assigned a large salary. It would seem that the elephant was provided with good maintenance until the end of his days, but everything ended much more sadly. On one of the holidays, Ivan ordered to deliver the elephant to Red Square.

But, this time, the animal, which had eaten up on the royal grub, did not at all strive to show its respect to the ruler. Moreover, the elephant raised its trunk and trumpeted loudly, eyewitnesses even claim that Ivan's cap fell off his head.

The outraged tsar ordered to send the elephant into exile, choosing Gorodetsk for this, now it is the city of Bezhetsk in the Tver region. In addition, a plague epidemic began in Moscow at that time, therefore, many frightened townspeople assured that it was the elephant that caused this trouble.

In Gorodetsk, the elephant and the driver were settled in a cold shed. Unaccustomed to such a harsh climate, the Arab soon died, and the elephant was left completely alone in this foreign country for him. In addition, none of the local residents knew how to handle an elephant, therefore, Ivan the Terrible was sent a petition - what to do with the animal?

There are two versions of how the elephant died. Romantics claim that he died near the grave of the driver, not allowing anyone to come to him or touching food. But there is also a more prosaic version - Grozny sent the oprichnik Pankrat Beaver to Gorodetsk, who, having fired several times from a squeak, killed a huge animal. Local residents assured that the hole intended for the burial of the elephant had been dug for a whole month.