The French have a long tradition of culture and art. They have also been involved in numerous wars and in most of them the French were bested by their opponents. Everybody knows of the famous Franco- German war of 1970 when the German armies breached the French defenses and surrounded Paris. Perhaps in case an assault had been ordered by Von Moltke the resulting nefarious activity could have been avoided. This involved eating the meat of 2 pet elephants of the Paris zoo named Castor and Pollux. The assault did not take place as the Germans felt that with a blockade the French would give in. The German siege lasted September 19 1870 to January 28 1871.
During this long siege supplies to the city were cut and the butchers started serving horse meat by killing the available horses. But with the blockade the horses as a source of supply of meat dwindled and Parisians had to turn to other animals.
The only immediate source of supply was the Paris zoo. This was the pride of Paris, but with meat dwindling a go ahead was given to kill the zoo animals for meat. This is the saddest occasion in the history of France, a nation that prides itself in its art and human rights record. The first animals killed and eaten for meat were antelopes, deer and black bucks. Many species of birds were also killed for meat. The big cats were left out as it was generally opined that their meat may not be good for human beings.
Attention now turned to the elephants. It is not clear now as too decided on the elephants as a source for meat. These elephants named Castor and Pollux were loved by children who had partaken of thousands of rides on them. The first elephant killed was Castor. He was shot with a steel bullet on 29 December 1870. A day later on 30 December it was the turn of Castor who was also shot. The dead elephants were bought by Boucherie Anglaise for a sum of 27,000 franks and their meat was sold in the Parisian restaurents.The trunks were a delicacy and sold for 45 franks a pound while the other parts of the elephant went for 24 franks a pound.
The elephant’s meat did not whet the appetite of the connoisseurs and many regretted that the elephants were shot for meat. The killing of the elephants was recorded in The Lettre-journal de Paris recorded the killings of the elephants which in the war conditions did not attract the sympathy of the Parisians. Matters were now coming to an end as Bismarck ordered an all out assault on the city and in 3 days the city surrendered. It is a matter of regret that Bismarck ordered the assault so late, for had he ordered the attack earlier the elephants could have been saved.