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Darwin Awards
1998 Urban Legends
Email a Friend The following stories are apocryphal. They are included on the Darwin Awards website because they are inspirational narratives of the astounding efforts of legendary Darwin Awards contenders. Next
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Constipated Elephant 
1998 Urban Legend

Snakey says, "The story below might be an Urban Legend, but I know a man who worked as an elephant keeper at the zoo. Apparently one day he was scrubbing the back of an elephant at bath time, when he received an unexpected bath of his own. The whole mess ran down to his feet and covered all but his ankles. While attempting to free himself, he lost his balance and fell flat on his back! Hearing the cursing and moaning, co-workers hurried over to assist my friend--but first had a good hard laugh before finally freeing him from his dung prison."

And now for the Hoary Old Legend:

1998, Paderborn, Germany | Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant, Stefan, 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly -- and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop! Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud.

"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to theground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. "It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen."

Another Version of the Story

PADERBORN, GERMANY - Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly-and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop. Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud.

"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen sometimes -- a billion-to-one shot, at least."

The heartbreaking tale of constipation and tragedy began April 23 when the conscientious zookeeper noticed that his prize, 8,000-pound African elephant didn't seem to be producing his usual poop aplenty. "Friedrich had actually been concerned for several days because he knew that severe constipation can kill an elephant," assistant zookeeper Kurt Herrman recalled. "He told me he was going to stay late that Thursday night to treat Stefan with laxatives and possibly give him an enema. I offered to help, but he sent me on home, saying he had everything under control."

Two hours later, horrified night watchman Walter Pleuger found Friedrich lying lifeless under a mound of muck, his body visible only from the knees down. "I had never really thought about it before," Det. Dern said. "But obviously, giving an elephant an enema can be a very dangerous activity and not something that should be attempted alone."

Submitted by Carmine Santarelli (story) and Ryan Peters (photo) and oppel (second story)

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