Karachi, 22 April 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS is deeply saddened that 17-year-old elephant Noor Jehan at Karachi Zoo has passed away. Her death follows an unfortunate incident on April 13 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 FOUR PAWS, Noor Jehan was unable to stand up on her own despite multiple attempts to help her. Already weakened from a serious condition she was recovering from, the elephant did not have the strength to rise once more. After fighting for nine days, she succumbed to her critical condition. She spent too long lying on the ground – a life-threatening situation for elephants.
It is now more urgent than ever that the remaining elephant at Karachi Zoo, Madhubala, who is mourning her long-time companion, is transferred to a more species-appropriate location as soon as possible, to prevent another potential tragedy.
Noor Jehan’s life hung in the balance after she was pulled out of the pool. She could not stand up on her own even after days of supporting her with a crane. As a result, the responsible authorities in Karachi set up a committee of national and international experts and veterinarians. The committee includes members of the FOUR PAWS expert team that had previously treated Noor Jehan and was given the mandate to advise and recommend on how to proceed with Noor Jehan’s future. The ultimate decision on Noor Jehan’s future would have been taken by the authorities. 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 after 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. Karachi Zoo does not fulfill international standards and is not equipped to take care of elephants, especially when the animals need specialised veterinary care. Therefore, Madhubala, the healthy elephant remining 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.
An expert team from FOUR PAWS was invited to Karachi by the zoo officials in early April to provide an urgent medical assessment of Noor Jehan, whose health had quickly deteriorated within weeks, leaving her unable to move her hind legs and in a lot of pain. The experts determined the cause of her pain and provided immediate relief. Noor Jehan responded well to the treatment, and while still being treated as an “intensive care” patient, showed signs of improvement prior to the pool incident. With proper care and the zoo staff following the recommendations by the FOUR PAWS experts, Noor Jehan would have had a chance at recovery.
“It saddens us immensely that Noor Jehan’s story came to such a heartbreaking ending. We would like to thank everyone who worked day and night during these challenging times to try and give Noor Jehan a chance at survival. We hope the authorities in Pakistan will take Noor Jehan’s sad fate as an example and do better for captive wild animals in the country in the future. Noor Jehan represents so many more wild animals that suffer in captivity, in Pakistan and worldwide. We welcome that the Federal and Sindh government are considering shutting down Karachi Zoo permanently. This could be a turning point for the welfare of wild animals in captivity in Pakistan. FOUR PAWS is ready to continue providing its support and expertise in Pakistan in cases where sustainable solutions can be achieved, to help improve the lives of as many animals as possible.”
Josef Pfabigan, global CEO of FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au