Pakistan: Ailing elephant may be euthanised

17-year-old Noor Jehan failed to stand up as it collapsed days after undergoing emergency treatment for a tumour

By AFP

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A mahout feeds elephant Noor Jehan at the Karachi Zoo. — AFP
A mahout feeds elephant Noor Jehan at the Karachi Zoo. — AFP

Published: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 2:36 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 2:40 PM

Animal experts will decide in coming days whether an ailing elephant at a zoo in Pakistan needs to be euthanised after it collapsed in its pen last week and has since failed to stand up, officials said.

The 17-year-old African elephant underwent emergency treatment for a tumour in Karachi on April 5, but collapsed days later and has since lain stricken on its side.


The pitiful plight of Noor Jehan is being shared by animal rights activists on social media in Pakistan and abroad, prompting calls for the zoo to be shut down.

Pakistan’s zoos are frequently accused of disregarding animal welfare, and in 2020 a court ordered the only facility in the country’s capital to close because of its decrepit state.


Noor Jehan’s fate now lies with a committee waiting for the arrival of Amir Khalil, the Austria-based chief vet of animal charity Four Paws International.

Khalil, who led the team that treated Noor Jehan for the tumour, told AFP he wanted to have “one last try” at helping the pachyderm recover.

“We will fight till the last for her recovery, and the rest is in the hands of Allah,” said Kanwar Ayub, the director of Karachi Zoo.

“We are diligently following Four Paws instructions for Noor Jehan’s treatment.”

Noor Jehan is still eating despite being on her side, pin-pricked by drips and regularly doused with water to cool her down.

“Her condition remains critical and uncertain,” Four Paws said.

Vet Khalil said the focus would likely shift to Noor Jehan’s pen pal, Madhubala, with the hope of finding her better accommodation.

“We will do what we can for Noor Jehan but really we need to move the other animal,” he said.

In 2019 Islamabad’s zoo was shut down after drawing international condemnation for its treatment of an Asian elephant named Kaavan.

Kavaan was later airlifted to retirement in Cambodia in a project spearheaded by US popstar and actor Cher, and carried out by Four Paws.


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