During the air raids of "operation Gomorrha" in the summer of 1943, large parts of the animal park were destroyed. Luckily some of the animals survived and thus it was that elephants helped with the clearing work afterwards - not only at the zoo but also in other areas of Hamburg.
The walrus lady Antje is also unforgotten as she was both the mascot of Hagenbeck and of the NDR [North German Broadcasting Corporation] from 1976 until her death in 2003.
Today, the two walrus calves Thor and Loki, which are the first two walruses born in a German zoo as well as the elephants, giraffes, lions, and other animal babies born at Hagenbeck continue the story.
Finally, a personal anecdote:
After having been a regular visitor at Hagenbeck for several years, one sometimes recognizes one or two members of Hagenbeck's staff in daily life. This effect is even amplified by the appearances of Hagenbeck on TV.
In the northwestern districts of Hamburg Stellingen and Lokstedt it is not unusual to see a familiar face from Hagenbeck on the street. Sometimes one finds oneself next to the zoo keeper from the elephant enclosure at the post office or standing behind the veterinarian in the line at the bank.
However, the most impressive coincidence took place in the parking lot of a supermarket: next to our car stood a small black car with a green sticker in the form of an elephant's head. My then three-year-old daughter was an enthusiastic elephant fan and wanted to have a sticker like this, too. The owner of the car came and we asked him about the sticker. He just said that these were not purchasable and that he had had it made for him at his office. He said goodbye very nicely, got into his car and drove away. After a short distance he stopped, returned to the parking space next to our car and got out again. Then he took a stick pin off the lapel of his jacket showing the same green elephant head and gave it to my daughter.
Even today, my daughter wears this stick pin for each visit to Hagenbeck very proudly because it turned out that the nice man who gave it to her was no other than Mr. Hagenbeck himself. At this point, we would like to say thank you very much for this priceless souvenir again.