Lovestruck Wild Elephant Breaks Into Zoo To Unite With Captive Female

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A zoo in India was put on lockdown earlier this week after the facility became the center stage of a surprising and forbidden elephant romance - one which seems ripped from the pages of a pachyderm-centric Shakespearian drama.

He was a wild elephant, at home on the sprawling grounds of Chandka Elephant Sanctuary in the Indian state of Odisha. She was a captive elephant, named Heera, bound to an enclosure in an adjoining zoo. But the differences in their conditions, one wild and the other confined, nor the barriers erected to separate them were enough to keep the pair apart.

Officials from Nandankanan Zoological Park in the city of Odisha said that, on Tuesday night, the amorous male elephant managed to break through the facility's boundary wall to unite with Heera, whom he apparently had spied - and fallen for - from the neighboring sanctuary. As India TV News reports, the male, undeterred by the zoo's efforts to shoo him away, then mated with Heera.

Meanwhile, the facility was forced to close for hours while the forbidden romance played out. Eventually, using firecrackers, zoo workers were able to drive the male back to his place on the other side of the sanctuary wall - though he apparently lingered a while longer there, watching Heera from afar.

"We launched an operation to drive out the elephant from the safari and managed to do so in two and half hours," the zoo's deputy director Jayant Dash told the Odisha Sun Times. "During the operation, we took utmost care that other captive elephants are not hurt by the wild elephant."

The zoo's concerns for public safety during the incident were warranted. Male elephants in musth, a period marked by a surge in reproductive hormones, are considered particularly aggressive and can become violent towards humans and other elephants in their drive to mate.

According to local media, this is the first time a wild elephant has broken into a zoo to mate with a captive.

Neither the zoo or sanctuary officials were immediately available for contact.