George Orwell cuenta en Shooting an elephant como siendo policía en Burma disparó a un elefante al que, en el fondo, no quería matar. El fragmento donde detalla la terrible muerte del animal:
When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick – one never does when a shot goes home – but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralysed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time – it might have been five seconds, I dare say – he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him. One could have imagined him thousands of years old. I fired again into the same spot. At the second shot he did not collapse but climbed with desperate slowness to his feet and stood weakly upright, with legs sagging and head drooping. I fired a third time. That was the shot that did for him. You could see the agony of it jolt his whole body and knock the last remnant of strength from his legs. But in falling he seemed for a moment to rise, for as his hind legs collapsed beneath him he seemed to tower upward like a huge rock toppling, his trunk reaching skyward like a tree. He trumpeted, for the first and only time. And then down he came, his belly towards me, with a crash that seemed to shake the ground even where I lay.
I got up. The Burmans were already racing past me across the mud. It was obvious that the elephant would never rise again, but he was not dead. He was breathing very rhythmically with long rattling gasps, his great mound of a side painfully rising and falling. His mouth was wide open – I could see far down into caverns of pale pink throat. I waited a long time for him to die, but his breathing did not weaken. Finally I fired my two remaining shots into the spot where I thought his heart must be. The thick blood welled out of him like red velvet, but still he did not die. His body did not even jerk when the shots hit him, the tortured breathing continued without a pause. He was dying, very slowly and in great agony, but in some world remote from me where not even a bullet could damage him further. I felt that I had got to put an end to that dreadful noise. It seemed dreadful to see the great beast Lying there, powerless to move and yet powerless to die, and not even to be able to finish him. I sent back for my small rifle and poured shot after shot into his heart and down his throat. They seemed to make no impression. The tortured gasps continued as steadily as the ticking of a clock.
In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away. I heard later that it took him half an hour to die.
Traducción aquí, por ejemplo.
El ensayo es una maravilla. No sabemos si es completamente autobiográfico, pero parece razonable suponer que sí. Orwell cuenta que se vio obligado a disparar al animal (que había matado a un hombre en una subida de hormonas conocida como musth, pero que en ese momento no era peligroso) por su posición como oficial del Imperio: el sahib, el hombre blanco entre nativos, tiene siempre que mostrar autoridad, aunque esta vaya contra su propia voluntad. En sus palabras: at that age I was not squeamish about killing animals, but I had never shot an elephant and never wanted to. Parece que a día de hoy hay gente que no sólo está dispuesta a hacerlo sin que les obliguen, sino que paga, y mucho, por ello. Esperemos, por el bien del elefante, que al menos tengan mejor puntería que Orwell.