Marjan was the most famous resident of Kabul Zoo. Marjan, which in Persian means coral, was born in West Germany in 1976 and was given as a gift to Kabul Zoo in 1978 by the Cologne Zoo. He arrived in the Afghan capital and, soon afterwards, a lioness by the name of Chucha joined him.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT MARJAN?
The lion witnessed Afghanistan’s history, from the communist coup, the Soviet occupation, the state of warlordism, and the hardline Taliban regime. The zoo was said to be shelled on various occasions. When the zoo personnel couldn’t help Marjan as the medical supply was destroyed. Marjan survived. He is the symbol of survival and a desire for peace.
Usual lion’s lifespan would be 10-15 years in wild, more than 15 in captivity. Marjan lived a hard life and passed away at the age of 23. In captivity, Male lions seems to live around 20 years. They do not face the problems of hunger or conflicts in captivity and the only reason for their death is the old age. The recorded maximum age of male lions in captivity is 25 to 26 years.
STORY OF MARJAN
In 1955, a solider sneaked into Marjan’s den to show his bravery to his fellow soldiers. He disturbed, stroked Chucha, the lioness. Even though Chucha didn’t react much Marjan killed the soldier. To seek revenge the deceased soldier’s brother threw a grenade into the den.
Not even a grenade could take away Marjan. It caused severe injury to Marjan. His eyes were removed. MSF doctors and an Italian photojournalist, thus rendering him blind, deaf, and permanently disabled. Despite several operations, neither Marjan’s eyesight nor his mouth could be saved.
Marjan couldn’t eat boned meat as he lost all of his teeth as a result of the incident. A ramp was built as he was weak yet he is strong as he survived. The incident sparked outrage as animal rights activists and locals started to seek justice. The man who threw grenade was attacked the following week, and passed away. His age was around 23 when death took him.
When American took over Kabul in 2001. The media covered the story of Marjan. He was the last lion in Afghanistan. Marjan died of old age in 2002. Private and public funeral ceremonies were held for the famous lion that was buried in the zoo. A statue was cemented in memory of Marjan, the lion. On his grave were these words in Pashto.
Here lies Marjan, who was about 23. He was the most famous lion in the world.
In March 2002, China donated a pair of lions to the Kabul Zoo to replace Marjan.
Marjan’s story is inspiring. The animals don’t have our facial muscles and language. They can’t communicate with us in exactly the way that we would understand, but if you watch carefully you can see how they are trying to communicate. They are conveying fear, sadness, distress and even happiness. Hence, one should avoid the animal abuse. They have equal rights to live like us.