Perth Zoo reassures patrons of well-being of elephants Putra Mas and Permai after Tricia’s death

Posted by David Reynolds | July 15th, 2022

Natalie RichardsThe West Australian

Perth Zoo says it is showering its grieving elephants with “lots of love and affection” as their enclosure remains closed to the public after Tricia’s death.

A week after the 65-year-old Asian elephant was euthanised following issues relating to her old age, zoo staff have reassured patrons of the wellbeing of the elephants she left behind.

The zoo’s remaining elephants Permai and Putra Mas are under the care of zoo keepers as they mourn Tricia’s loss.

Elephants are widely believed to be among the few animals that grieve a death in their herd.

“We wanted to let you know that Permai and Putra Mas are doing really well,” the zoo told its Facebook followers.

“The keepers are so proud of how the elephants have coped with the loss of Tricia, and are giving them lots of love and affection.”

The elephant enclosure remains closed to the public during the busy school holiday time so the animals can be given space following the loss.

“We’re still giving the elephants some private time, so their exhibit is temporarily screened off. They’re being so brave and courageous, so we hope to open up the area soon,” zoo staff said.

Permai and Putra Mas face a future away from Perth Zoo, following a long-held plan to move them upon Tricia’s death.

At the time, then-environment minister Stephen Dawson said Perth Zoo was too small to accommodate multiple elephants.

He explained how female elephants are highly social and need to be part of a herd, while the males live in bachelor groups.

“For Putra Mas, his genetics are highly valuable and he would greatly benefit by being closer to ovulating females in other zoos,” he said at the time.

“We are constrained on the current zoo site with no room to expand to accommodate a herd of the size that we would need to ensure the best conditions for our elephants.”

Perth Zoo has confirmed modern zoos recognise elephants need a much bigger footprint than the South Perth site offers.

“The two other Perth Zoo elephants…won’t be rushed into their new forever homes, with the zoo prioritising finding the perfect place for them in all respects – including matching them with their most natural herd society environment,” a spokesperson said.

But it will be a sad time for Perth Zoo patrons, many of whom have enjoyed visiting the elephants over several decades.

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