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Celebrity elephant Appu dies

T. Ramavarman

Six-year-old Kuttinarayanan's playfulness won the appreciation of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi during the Asian Games in 1982



LYING IN STATE: `Asiad Appu' at the Aanakotta in Punnathurkotta, Guruvayur.

GURUVAYUR: Celebrity elephant `Asiad Appu' died at the Aanakotta (elephant yard) of the Guruvayur Devaswom at Punnathurkotta, near here, on Saturday.

The 27-year-old elephant was crippled after a fall into a septic tank at Palakkad about 20 years ago.

The falls then became frequent. It had to be lifted up each time as the pain was excruciating even as it lay prostrate. The elephant remained confined within the walls of the Aanakotta.

It was well taken care of by veterinarians and the Guruvayur Devaswom officials. Appu's condition became worse on Friday, when it fell down again. It could not be lifted up as it had high fever. The end came in the afternoon on Saturday. A large number of people, with tear-filled eyes, paid their last respects to Asiad's mascot.

The elephant shot into fame when it became the living symbol of the celebrity mascot of the Second Asian Games (Asiad) held in New Delhi in 1982. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi wanted an elephant as the `logo' of the Games. A circus elephant was reportedly trained for the purpose.

Kerala, the land of pachyderms, sent 34 elephants as part of its contingent for the cultural procession to be held prior to the opening of the Games.

Appu, which was part of the contingent, was six years old then and was known as Kuttinarayanan. But later it was decided that no living animal should be made the logo. Instead, huge inflated jumbo-shaped balloons with a front leg up became the logo of the Games.

But Appu's playfulness won the appreciation of Mrs. Gandhi and Rajiv. It was the cynosure of all eyes including the media.

Burial at Thodupuzha

K.C. Panikker, veterinarian, who was attending on the elephant along with other experts such as Muralidharan Nair, T.C.R. Nambiar Radhakrishnan Kaimal and Avanaparambu Maheswaran Namboodirippad, said Appu's post-mortem would be conducted on Saturday. It will then be taken to Thodupuzha and buried on Sunday at a special area provided by a private party, Dr. Panikker told The Hindu here.

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