Marjan (1976 – January 25, 2002) was the most famous resident of the rundown Kabul Zoo. The lion witnessed Afghanistan’s turbulent history, from the 1978 murder of King Zahir Shah’s brother-in-law, Sardar Mohammed Daoud and his entire family, to the arrival of the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan that launched another coup, Great Saur Revolution, the USSR invasion, occupation and departure, state of warlordism, and the fall of Taliban. Once the western forces moved into the country, devastating conditions in Kabul’s once well kept Zoo were revealed. Marjan, the blind lion, became an instant celebrity.
Marjan, which in Pashto means coral, was born in 1976 and was given as a gift to Kabul in 1978 by the Zoo in Cologne, Germany. He arrived in the Afghan capital and, soon afterwards, a lioness by the name of Chucha joined him. During the USSR occupation, Kabul's Zoo did experience attack at the hands of the Russian army but compared to the total destruction of the city around it, was still largely spared. However, once the Russians left the country, the civil war that ensued, along with the state of total chaos, enveloped Kabul in the middle of a battlefield. The zoo