The scheduled official visit of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa to Israel this week was complicated by an elephant in the room — after Rajapaksa made it known he would like to present his counterpart President Shimon Peres with a pachyderm, as a gift between friends.
The idea first came up as arrangements were made for the official visit, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
Although staff at the President’s Residence were thrilled at the outsize show of appreciation, they were also alarmed at the prospect of finding a place to keep the jumbo Asian mammal, which can weigh in at over three metric tons.
A quick check with the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo led to an agreement in which the animal would be taken in as a member of the existing herd. However, keepers pointed out that moving an elephant from one country to another requires more than a very large trunk.
In addition to a battery of veterinary checks there are international regulations controlling the movement of wild animals around the globe and the entire process was likely to take several weeks.
As a result, there is no formal plan to bring the elephant, but a Foreign Ministry source noted that if the Sri Lankan president announced during the visit his intention to send the gift, it would be warmly received.
Rumors suggest the elephant would be named “Shimon,” presumably for its thick skin.