Donkey and Elephant by Erna van der Linden Velp, The Netherlands
Date: Tuesday, December 01 @ 09:57:14 UTC
Topic: Creative Galleries

To be honest: this is an incredible story. The event took place a long time ago, in the summer of the year 1938.

On Scheveningen beach, a donkey and an elephant enjoyed a fine day. Holding an ice cream in the one, a lemonade in the other foreleg. How on earth did they arrive there? Listen . . .

Donkey and Elephant lived in Artis, the Amsterdam Zoo. In 1938, the Zoo celebrated its foundation, one hundred years ago.

To mark this event the director of the Zoo arranged a meeting with his staff and developed a plan: “In summer we’ll sell entrance-tickets for adults at half price; free admittance for children accompanied with their parents.”

‘Nice idea’ stood on the staff’s faces, ‘it’s money that counts for a director’. The director’s assistant, dr. A.F.J. Portielje, had a far different idea: “A holiday for all animals. This will be a benefit for the reputation of our Zoo.”

The director, to be honest, felt more for his own plan. But fair enough: A.F.J.’s idea was brilliant. More over: one could expect such a thing from this man. His job was ‘maintaining the wellbeing of the animals’.

The gates of Artis Zoo were closed for one day. All animals could spend their holiday as they wished. Some of them wanted to sleep ‘a hole in the day’, a quiet brunch, followed by ‘minding their own family affairs’. Imagine a day without curious visitors.

Others wanted to make acquaintance with their neighbours; they were used to all sorts of noises, but had not a clue which noise came from whom. A fine chance to get the jigsaw completed.

A donkey and an elephant however had a different plan: leaving the Zoo! What about a day on the beach, the very thought of it . . .

Zandvoort was too close to Amsterdam, they decided that it had to be Scheveningen. From Amsterdam to Scheveningen is quite a distance, even when one has the blessing of four legs. Apart from this fact, it was a real warm day: blue sky, soft breeze from the east. The journey seemed an eternity.

When they arrived at the beach, it was really time to collapse for the two. Elephant, nearly exhausted, had a plan.

“Donkey, hold my tusks, climb my trunk very careful and slow, sit down on my back. Look for an ideal place for the two of us. If possible, a place with parasol”. “Thank you very much. Once bitten, twice shy!”

Elephant persuaded Donkey to do as told. Unfortunately, Donkey was too much in a hurry, climbed and fell in a split second. Landed ‘plouf’ in the sand and refused to make one more step. Elephant, a bit disappointed, sat down next to him.

“What have we started” Donkey heehawed softly “and remember, we have to go back today”. “We could try to hike back,” trumpeted Elephant less softly.

A lorry driver / animal lover overheard this conversation. He offered the two a hike. “Before I set off to Amsterdam I want to see the sunset. Then I will drop you at the Tropical Museum. From there to Artis is peanuts, the folks at the Zoo will believe that you did nothing but walk! By the way, have you already had a drink?”

The two shook their heads. “No? I will get you something and I am curious to know how you managed to arrive here. Escaped perhaps?”

“We got a holiday and walked to this very beach!” “A holiday? A walk from Amsterdam to Scheveningen? Tell me another!”

Whether the driver believed it or not didn’t really matter; the two got a hike, plus an ice cream and a lemonade. A surprise indeed!

The holiday-spirit, almost faded, rose again. Only wading in the surf was not possible, alas. When the wind is blowing from the east there’s a lot of jellyfish in the water. And no one likes these creatures, except jellyfishes themselves.

But a lot of stories were told about life in the Amsterdam Zoo. The driver listened breathless, time flew by.

In the meantime, most of the sun-worshippers, mainly families with children, had left the beach. Calmness and peace shone over sea and sand. Slow, very slow, the sun disappeared behind the horizon. An event, never experienced by the two animals.

The driver had no time to linger; he drove Donkey and Elephant to the Tropical Museum, a successful trip. The air was filled with “thank you very much” and “see you soon”, hands and forelegs were shaken. The driver promised to come to the Zoo: “I’ll visit you with my wife and kids. Artis, we’ll have to be there!”

The walk from the Museum to the Zoo was peanuts indeed. At the main gate the director plus A.F.J. were waiting. Peering at their watches, pacing nervously up and down. They were relieved to see the two adventurers. Quietly they set off for the night-houses. A.F.J. locked the doors with care. ‘The Story’ could be told next morning.

Donkey and Elephant soon fell asleep. In the distance the bells of the Westerchurch sounded: midnight.

Donkey and Elephant’s adventurous story was told many a time to everyone who was interested. When time passed, staff and visitors of Artis didn’t understand any longer what really happened on that special summer day in 1938.

At last a fan of the unforgettable dr A.F.J. Portielje wrote this one and only true tale!

To read another lovely nature story by Erna van der Linden Velp, The Netherlands Press Here

To read a moving nature poem by the same author Press Here

Donkey and Elephant by Erna van der Linden Velp, The Netherlands


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