Copy of 2021-11-29T134052Z_1469525818_RC2C4R9MHHQK_RTRMADP_3_PAKISTAN-ELEPHANTS [1]-1638362648554
Frank Goeritz, head of the veterinary service at Leibniz Institute for zoo and wildlife research in Berlin, takes blood samples of one of the elephants, during medical assistance in Karachi.. Image Credit: Reuters

Karachi: The head of a team of veterinarians on Tuesday called for urgent medical care for a pair of elephants in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.

Dr. Frank Goeritz, whose team was sent by the global animal welfare group Four Paws to examine four elephants, reported that one of the animals needs a ‘complicated’ surgery to remove a damaged and infected tusk. A second elephant has dental problems and a medical issue with a foot, according to vets dispatched by Four Paws.

Such diseases “are very painful and can lead to life-threatening situations in elephants,” according to a report prepared by Goeritz.

Four Paws said a Pakistani court in Karachi had asked that the animal welfare experts assess the well-being of the four elephants in Karachi Zoo and Karachi Safari Park.

Overall, the health of the animals is good, said Goeritz, whose team will submit final recommendations on the condition of the elephants to the court. It was not immediately known when the two animals would be treated or by whom.

Startling revelation

The report also disclosed that one of the two elephants, Sonu, earlier considered to be male, is actually female.

‘Sonu’ the erstwhile male elephant is now Sonia. Sonia and Malika were brought from Tanzania in 2009 and since then, it is believed that no vet had gone near them.

Interestingly, the zoo vets despite having them for over a decade at the Safari Park were not aware of the gender of Sonia and even after the ultrasound test performed by the international vets, insisted it was a male elephant.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Four Paws said Tuesday the team’s priority is the immediate medical care of all four elephants.

“One of the elephants, Noor Jehan, needs major surgery for a painful infection of her broken tusk urgently. Furthermore, all four elephants should be reunited at Karachi Safari Park, proper diet and enrichment must be provided, and the staff needs to receive proper training,” the statement said.

The experts also discovered that the elephant named Sonu, believed to be male for over 10 years, is actually female, the statement said.

The visit by the veterinarians comes a year after the rescue of an elephant named Kaavan, who was transferred from Islamabad to Cambodia and now lives in an elephant sanctuary. Kaavan had languished in the Islamabad zoo for 35 years, most of that time in chains, and he lost his partner in 2012.

-With inputs from AP