Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud.
"The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen sometimes -- a billion-to-one shot, at least."
The heartbreaking tale of constipation and tragedy began April 23 when the conscientious zookeeper noticed that his prize, 8,000-pound African elephant didn't seem to be producing his usual poop aplenty. "Friedrich had actually been concerned for several days because he knew that severe constipation can kill an elephant," assistant zookeeper Kurt Herrman recalled. "He told me he was going to stay late that Thursday night to treat Stefan with laxatives and possibly give him an enema. I offered to help, but he sent me on home, saying he had everything under control."
But two hours later, horrified night watchman Walter Pleuger found Friedrich lying lifeless under a mound of muck, his body visible only from the knees down. "I had never really thought about it before," Det. Dern said. "But obviously, giving an elephant an enema can be avery dangerous activity- and not something that should be attempted alone."