How the Vatican became an elephant's burial site

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How The Vatican Became An Elephant's Burial Site

The Vatican has an unexpected animal buried on its grounds.

In 1962, workers were digging in the Belvedere Courtyard when they uncovered remains which they initially thought belonged to a dinosaur.

It was eventually determined that the skeleton was of an elephant which was gifted to the newly elected Pope Leo X by the King of Portugal in the early 1500s.

The king wanted to court favor with the Pope in relation to territorial expansion and the spice trade so he sent gifts that included textiles, gilded and bejeweled items, and animals including Hanno the elephant.

When the elephant finally arrived in front of the pope, it reportedly bowed on its knees and sprayed the audience with water.

The Pope developed such an affection for the animal that when it died after two years, he wrote a memorial and commissioned an art piece in its honor.

The remains were buried under the Vatican where much of them can still be found, though the tusks are located elsewhere.

See photos of the majestic animals below:
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How the Vatican became an elephant's burial site
An Asian elephant beats the heat by gathering water from a sprinkler with his trunk, at Berlin's Zoologischer Garten Zoo August 10, 2015 as temperatures rose past the 30 degree mark.. (Photo credit: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo taken on July 24, 2015, Sri Lankan elephants bathes in a lake at Yala National Park in the southern district of Yala, some 250kms southwest of Colombo. Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. (Photo credit:  Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Nick Riewoldt of the Saints and Jack Riewoldt of the Tigers meet elephant Bong Su, the largest animal in Australia during an AFL media opportunity at Melbourne Zoo on July 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
An elephant cools off on a hot summer day at Madrid's zoo on July 2, 2015. Spain is heading for a new heatwave which will last for at least nine days and extend to the rest of Europe, the national weather office said on July 1. (Photo credit: DANI POZO/AFP/Getty Images)
IZMIR, TURKEY - JUNE 26: Deniz, the baby elephant living at Izmir Wild Life Park, looks at an inflatable pool brought for it in Izmir, Turkey on June 26, 2015. (Photo by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Baby elephants play in water at the Israeli zoo of Ramat Gan, north of the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 27, 2015 as temperatures reached 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit). (Photo credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
A male elephant charges towards unseen Indian villagers after they threw stones in an attempt to scare away a herd of wild elephants which strayed close to the village of Kolabari, some 50kms from Siliguri close to the India-Nepal border on May 25, 2015. Indian forest guards and local villagers used firecrackers to scare away the elephants after sightings caused unease among villagers. Human-elephant conflicts are on the rise in India as villagers and farmers encroach on the elephants' natural habitat.  (Photo credit: DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on May 21, 2015 shows an elephant at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya, approximately 300 km north of the capital Nairobi. An estimated 470,000 wild elephants remain in Africa, according to a count by the NGO Elephants Without Borders, down from several million a century ago. (Photo credit: TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
PINNAWALA, SRI LANKA - APRIL 16: Elephants are seen at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka, on April 16, 2015. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants located at Pinnawala village, northwest of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. Pinnawala is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to many of the orphaned unweaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka. It was established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC). (Photo by Fatih Dogan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10: Elephants feed on giant pumpkins at Taronga Zoo on April 10, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Taronga Zoo and the Sydney Royal Easter Show partnered together to recycle the giant pumpkins, including one pumpkin weighing in at 728kg. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
An elephant splashes at sunset in the waters of the Chobe river in Botswana Chobe National Park, in the north eastern of the country on March 20, 2015. African elephants could be extinct in the wild within a few decades, experts warned on March 23, 2015 at a major conservation summit in Botswana that highlighted an alarming decline in numbers due to poaching. (Photo credit: CHRIS JEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Bayanga, Central African Republic - March 15: An African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) at Dzanga Bai Saline in Dzanga National Park at triangle of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic on March 13, 2015 in Bayanga, Central African Republic. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
Bayanga, Central African Republic - March 15: An African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) at Dzanga Bai Saline in Dzanga National Park at triangle of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic on March 13, 2015 in Bayanga, Central African Republic. (Photo by Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images)
Elephant Asha (front), father Assam (C) and mother Angele (L) are pictured on Asha's 2nd birthday in the zoo and Botanic Garden in Budapest on February 14, 2015.  (Photo credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on January 31, 2015, shows Tang Gwaa of the Thai blind orchestra playing with an elephant after a rehearsal ahead of a concert at the Thai Elephants Research and Conservation Fund in Khao Yai national park 180 km (112 miles) north east of Bangkok. Deftly feeling their way along the bumps of the braille score, the young players of Thailand's first blind orchestra memorize scales, defying both their impairment and ingrained negative attitudes towards disability. (Photo credit: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
IZMIR, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 07: Baby elephant named Deniz, which has been kept in a sanctuary since she was born due to the risk of getting infection, is seen with her sister Izmr on her first day outside of the sanctuary at Wildlife Park of Izmir, Turkey on November 07, 2014. (Photo by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Female elephants Safari (L) and Chupa walk in their enclosure on October 8, 2014 in a zoo in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo credit: MARTIN SCHUTT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 30: Elephants roaming at Yamuna river bank, on August 30, 2014 in New Delhi, India. These elephants belong to several individual owners who work the elephants to earn a living for themselves and their families. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
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