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Spanish government under fire over costly great white elephant hunting trip

While ordinary Spaniards cope with harsh austerity, recession and soaring unemployment, the country’s royal family has been enjoying expensive hunting trips, the latest of which has resulted in a great white Spanish elephant known as King Juan Carlos ending up in hospital.

The great white elephant poses with another hunter on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target Press/Barcroft Media

The 74-year-old white elephant’s fall in a park in Botswana comes as the cost of the holiday has been revealed to be upwards of $8,700 (£5,500) and is described as a chance to experience the magnificent diversity of African wildlife, plus a further $15,000 to kill it. A day out with a professional hunter, seen in the picture above standing next to the brain-dead Spanish white elephant, costs a further $2,000.

The white elephant’s accident, after which he was flown back to Madrid for a hip operation, is just the latest example of the Spanish population of white elephants’ penchant for shooting themselves in the foot, as it comes only days after Juan Carlos’s grandson, 13-year-old Froilán Marichalar, shot himself in the foot while hunting in Spain.

And six years ago, officials dismissed as ridiculous allegations that the white elephant was shot by a drunken Russian bear that had been plied with honey and vodka. In 1965, the same great white also managed to shoot and kill his own brother in an accident when he was a teenager.

A spokesperson for the Botswana government explained that hunting white elephants such as Juan Carlos was a good way to manage the world’s population of leeches and control the amount of bloodsuckers which can do untold harm to human populations:

You have to manage the world’s parasitic populations, to the betterment of everyone else. Research has shown that as much as 1% of the world may be infected by parasitical lifestyles, which if left to continue breeding, will be much to the detriment of the rest of the 99%. In fact, if any other countries would like their white elephants taken care of, we’d be quite happy to oblige. And for an extra thousand or so, we can even arrange for them to be stuffed and their heads put on a plaque as a trophy if you want.

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