Elephant trained to recognise Euro

Bell-ringing elephant retrained to recognise Euro.

For decades, visitors to the Zoological Garden of Lisbon, one of the biggest in Europe, have been puzzled by the sound of a bell ringing. Only when they approached the elephants’ enclosure did they understand the origin of the sound: an elephant.

The zoo has maintained the tradition of a male elephant ringing a bell in exchange for a silver coin (more valuable than the copper ones). Now with the change to the Euro, the elephant has had to be retrained to recognise the new currency. In future, “Jonas” (named after UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi) will ring the bell upon receipt of a 10 Euro cent coin, others being rejected and scornfully cast into the moat in front of the enclosure.

Jonas may feel some nostalgia for the old escudo, though. After all, they say that “elephants never forget”.


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