When you say history and Ghent in one sentence, you’ll always get my attention. There are places in the city where the history isn’t as visible as in the city center. Close to the St Peter’s Abbey (read the St Peter’s abbey article) there is a neighbourhood where you’ll find some late 19th century history. The Muinkpark is one of the most quiet and beautiful parks of the city and was once a piece of a zoo, Le Jardin Zoologique de Gand which closed in 1903. The streets around the park, where animals where once were exhibited, are reminiscent of the old story of this neighbourhood. You will find the Zebrastraat, Alpakastraat and Tijgerstraat eg.
58 elephants, the name of my company refers to this piece of history. The ‘elephants’ in 58 elephants are Betsy and Jack, the stars of the zoo. When Betsy died, she was replaced by Jack but the people of Ghent still called him Betsy because they couldn’t say goodbye to their beloved elephant. When the zoo was closed, Jack was sold. His new owner couldn’t afford the care of an elephant and killed him. His death was the start of an urban legend. His flesh would be sold to a butcher who made sausages and served it to the city council on a big buffet. Although nobody has ever confirmed the story.
If you sit on a bench on a beautiful day, just enjoy the silence and maybe inside your head you’ll be visiting the old zoo.