He inhabited his cage at Kabul zoo before the King left the country, lived through the regime of Dr. Najibullah and the Soviet Forces which he requested to combat the Mujaheddin, outlived the Taleban and survived an attack in which some savage threw a grenade in his face, an act of cruelty which blinded him.
Omar, the keeper who lovingly treated Marjan for the last eight years, explained that “He was not eating for several days and this morning, I found him dead in his cage. He was very old and had to leave us one day”.
Marjan had been a present from Germany to Afghanistan in 1964. The incident in which a hand grenade was thrown in his face predictably dates from the Taleban regime. One Taleban had climbed into the cage to prove how bold he was and the result was as expected – he was eaten. The next day, his brother turned up at the zoo and hurled a hand grenade at the unfortunate animal. Marjan survived, but was blinded and became lame.
Now the WSPCA (World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is training the 11 zoo keepers at Kabul zoo, is paying their salaries and is preparing for the reconstruction of this once magnificent zoological garden.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru