Berliners move to save life of wild boar in nudist laptop chase

Silent protest and petition undertaken after city authorities threaten to shoot the animal

Last week a Berlin wild boar became a global internet sensation after she was photographed stealing a laptop bag from a lake shore, with a nude bather in hot pursuit.

Now Berliners have started a campaign to spare the life of the boar, called Elsa, after city authorities insisted she was a serial offender who needed to be “withdrawn” – that is, shot.

The Teufelssee lake area, where the laptop chase occurred, and Berlin’s surrounding Grunewald forest are home to large numbers of wild boar who often ramble into the city searching bins for food.

Berlin's chief forest ranger Katja Kammer said the boar and her piglets had been on her watch list for some time – and last week's incident only hardened her resolve to act.


“This wild boar and her two young are frequent visitors at Teufelssee . . . they have lost any instinct of shyness,” she told local broadcaster RBB. “It’s only luck that, to date, nothing serious has happened.”


Her remarks have prompted outrage among animal welfare groups. An online petition against killing the boar had already attracted nearly 6,000 signatures by Monday evening. On Sunday, a dozen protesters held a silent protest near the lake demanding clemency for Elsa.

“It’s completely ignored that, for years, the sow has shared her habitat peacefully with bathers,” the petition said. “Even the naked man . . . got his laptop back. [Elsa] had the power to seriously injure him – which, from her perspective, she would have every reason to do. But she didn’t.”

Fearing further pushback, a Berlin forestry spokesman intervened on Monday, insisting the close proximity of the boar to bathers was not ideal in the long term. Regular bathers at the lake say the viral images of the nudist laptop chase have attracted large numbers of people to the lake – many of whom are there to feed Elsa and her family.

“Elsa’s totally chilled,” said one bather, “the people are the problem.”

Stay of execution

Berlin forestry spokesman Mark Franusch said it was not an "immediate" priority to shoot the animal.

“Due to the age of the young, it is forbidden to shoot them right now,” Mr Franusch added.

But Elsa’s stay of execution may be short: wild boar hunting season begins in October and, each year, up to 2,000 of the animals are culled in an around Berlin to control the population.

“If particular dangers arise for humans or animals at bathing places like the Teufelssee,” Mr Franusch said, “then suitable measures to control these dangers must be taken.”

Elsa was not available for comment.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin