Noor Jehan elephant-1682159306915
Noor Jehan's death came as a shock not only to the Pakistanis but for the international animal lovers and rights activists too as she had become the focus of their attention. Image Credit: Supplied

ISLAMABAD: Karachi Zoo’s 17-year old African elephant Noor Jehan who had gained international attention after developing multiple health complications finally died on Saturday, a day when the nation was celebrating Eid Al Fitr.

Her death came as a shock not only to the Pakistanis but for the international animal lovers and rights activists too as she had become the focus of their attention.

A team of global animal rights group Four Paws was also invited by the provincial government authorities and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to visit and treat her. They arrived in the first week of April and performed a number of procedures including treatment of her tumor on April 5, 2023.

After the task was accomplished, they left Karchi describing her condition in control and hoping she would survive a normal elephant’s life i.e. up to 40 years or more.

Local vets were given a roadmap

The international vets had given a roadmap to the local vets of KMC and were in regular contact through mode of telemedicine.

After the treatment, Noor Jehan initially showed signs of recovery and everything went according to the plan but unfortunately, on April 13, she fell inside the zoo’s pool and since then she could not stand on her feet.

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According to Four Paws veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil who was also part of the mission that performed root canal surgery of Noor Jehan and her 18-year old female cousin Madhubala in August last year, Noor Jehan’s death was the result of the unfortunate incident that left her unable to leave the pool in her enclosure for hours.

After the local team was able to pull her out under the remote supervision of the international vets, Noor Jehan was unable to stand up on her own despite multiple attempts to help her.

Noor Jahan lies in front of water jet fans at the zoo in Karachi. Image Credit: Reuters

A statement issued by Four Paws on Saturday said: “Already weakened from a serious condition she was recovering from, the elephant did not have the strength to rise once more and after fighting for 9 days, she succumbed to her critical condition. She spent too long lying on the ground – a life-threatening situation for elephants.”

Died before a decision could be taken

After her fall, the authorities had constituted a committee that included members of the Four Paws expert team and was given the mandate to advise and recommend on how to proceed; however before they could come to a decision, Noor Jehan sadly died.

“When we left Karachi after our initial health assessment of Noor Jehan, we were hopeful about her recovery. We were in constant contact with the local team af-ter she got stuck in the pool. It is heartbreaking that she had to die at only 17 years old, when she could have had many more years to live, he said.

Karachi Zoo not a proper place for animals

According to the Four Paws statement, Karachi Zoo does not fulfill international standards and is not equipped to take appropriate care of elephants, especially when the animals need specialized veterinary care.

Elephant caretake Yusuf Masseih (right) mourns following the death of Noor Jehan. Image Credit: AFP

Therefore, Madhubala, the healthy elephant remaining at the zoo, must be relocated to a more species-appropriate place as soon as possible to at least give her a chance at a better life,” says FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil.

Amir Khalil who is shortly heading to Pakistan for postmortem and more importantly to oversee preparations for the remaining sibling of Noor Jehan, 18-year old Madhubala, said it was more urgent than ever that Madhubala should be transferred to a more species-appropriate location as soon as possible, to prevent another potential tragedy.

Governor Sindh feels heartbroken

Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori who played an important role in inviting the Four Paws team to Karachi and remained with them during the medical procedures ex-pressed his heartfelt condolences on the death of Noor Jehan.

“KMC tried its level best to save Noor Jehan and her treatment was underway in accordance with the guidelines of the international vets but she could not survive and passed away on Eid Day. I am heartbroken,” said he in a tweet.