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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 11:40 GMT
War veteran elephant dies
An 86-year-old elephant which served two opposing armies in World War II has died at a zoo in Taiwan.

The elephant, called Lin Wang, dragged Japanese army cannon and supplies through the jungles of Burma until he was captured by Chinese troops in 1943.

He continued his army service on the Chinese mainland, and later on Taiwan.

Lin Wang
Lin Wang was by far the oldest Asian elephant in captivity
In 1954, Lin Wang was retired to Taipei Zoo in the company of a female elephant.

He was known to children in Taiwan as Grandpa Lin, and the zoo held birthday parties for him each year.

His keepers said he had been in poor spirits since his female companion, Ma Lan, died last year.

The zoo held a minute's silence in honour of Lin Wang, and has appealed for $144,000 in contributions, so that his body can be preserved.

People in Taiwan mourned his death in the traditional way, by burning paper money and lighting incense.

Lin Wang was by far the oldest Asian elephant in captivity, in a continent where the animal is widely revered and has an integral part in culture and religion.

But despite the reverence shown to the animal, conservationists say it is facing extinction in the wild.



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