An animal behaviourist has been called in to help Lammie the elephant as she mourns the death of her friend Kinkel‚ who died at the Johannesburg Zoo this week.
Nonhlanhla Sifumba‚ MMC for community development in Joburg‚ said on Thursday that zoo authorities are still conducting a postmortem to determine the cause of Kinkel’s death. The 35-year-old male elephant died on Tuesday morning after falling ill on Monday.
“Kinkel shared an enclosure with a female elephant‚ Lammie‚ who turned 39 in August this year. She has not taken the situation very well‚ as elephants are very social animals‚” said Sifumba.
“On Monday‚ she was seen trying to help Kinkel get up. She refused to eat on Tuesday. Alice‚ her zookeeper‚ suspects that she was aware that something was wrong. Elephants are known to grieve. We know that she trumpets whenever she is happy. We are not sure how she will express her emotions in this situation.
“An animal behaviourist will monitor and work closely with Lammie to assist her during this stressful time.
“Staff that looked after Kinkel and in the section will also receive counselling as they are emotional about this sudden loss.”
Kinkel‚ who was born in the wild but taken to the zoo after hurting his trunk in a poacher’s snare‚ was popular with visitors. His enclosure was one of the most visited in the zoo‚ said Sifumba.
However‚ he had been suffering intermittently from colic for almost 10 years. “Last year‚ the colic attacks became more frequent‚ with the worst episode being about three attacks in a week. However‚ these did not last long - at most five minutes. The last colic attack was some time in June this year. Since then he hadn’t fully recovered.”
Sifumba said the zoo had managed Kinkel’s condition through veterinary care and by managing his diet.
She said the postmortem results could be available as soon as the end of this week‚ depending on the cause - otherwise only after laboratory tests are done “in a week or two”.