In 1870 the Franco-Prussian war took place. The German armies under Von Moltke quickly breached the French lines and laid siege to Paris. The advance was swift and in a short time Paris was surrounded. The siege lasted from September 19 1870 to January 28 1871. The siege was part of German policy to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and the German high command was of the view that a blockade of the city would force the surrender of Paris. Hence Paris was surrounded and a blockade imposed.
The Germans cut of all supplies to Paris and blockaded the city. This had an effect and food supplies dwindled. The Parisians first started eating horse meat. This had been introduced four years earlier by the butchers as alternative cheap meat for the poor. But horses were also becoming scarce and the butchers had to think of something else.
With an effective blockade this source also dwindled and next the Parisians started killing and eating animals from the zoo. This was sad but antelopes, deer and other animals were shot and consumed. Next was the turn of 2 elephants named Castor and Pollux. They were siblings and loved by the kids who had many a joy ride on them. Castor was killed on 29 December 1870 and Pollux a day later. They were shot and then cut up for meat. The elephants were shot by explosive steel bullets. The elephants were bought by Boucherie Anglaise for 27,000 francs. The trunks were sold as a delicacy for 45 francs a pound and other parts at about 14/14 francs a pound.
By all accounts the meat of the elephants was not tasty. The killing of the elephants was recorded in the Lettre-journal de Paris. But all this did not help the Parisians as Otto Von Bismarck frustrated by the slow progress of the siege ordered an artillery bombardment of Paris. The artillery bombardment had an effect and the It is recorded that the city surrendered in 3 days. One wishes that Bismarck had ordered the bombardment earlier so that the elephants could be saved.