The Perth Zoo will have no more elephants when much loved Asian pachyderm Tricia dies, and it re-homes two younger elephants to other zoos in Australasia.
- Perth Zoo uses 120th birthday to give an insight into future vision
- When popular elephant Tricia dies in coming years she won’t be replaced
- Other two elephants will be sent away as zoo looks to other attractions
At more than 61 years old, Tricia is one of the oldest Asian zoo elephants in the world.
The oldest elephant in captivity in Australia reached the age of 63 and a zoo spokesman said Tricia was starting to slow down and develop age-related aches and pains.
The zoo was now planning for the inevitable day when she passes away.
When that day comes, the two younger elephants — the female, Permai, and the male, Putra Mas — would be sent to other zoos to benefit from being in a herd.
Putra Mas would also need to be near an ovulating female to breed.
Tricia the elephant at Perth Zoo, with her Christmas bonbon filled with fresh fruit. (ABC News: Katrin Long)
WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said it would be the end of an era when the zoo no longer has any elephants.
“She’s part of my life, part of the lives of many in this state, so she will be a loss, but her loss will create other opportunities at the zoo,” Mr Dawson said.
“It is an evolving place. Animals come and go. It will be a tragedy to see her go.
“She is much loved, and we’ll certainly miss her.”
Public asked to pitch ideas
On its 120th anniversary, the zoo has begun re-thinking what it would look like in the future.
Next month a new African lion exhibit will open, featuring two new lionesses from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales.
But the zoo has asked the public for ideas on how it could evolve and remain a modern, urban attraction.
Staff have looked at what is happening elsewhere in the world, and already had some ideas from New Zealand and the United States on which that they have sought feedback.
One option is to create trails running over pedestrian pathways for animals such as orangutans, and even tigers, to give them more room to roam.
The plan is the animals would literally pass overhead as visitors explored the grounds.
There could also be interconnected exhibits to allow animals to move around different areas each day, creating a different zoo experience for the public each time they visit.
Another idea mooted was to allow the public access behind the scenes, to watch procedures at the veterinary hospital or see inside the animal breeding areas, where specialists work to help save endangered species from extinction.
Tricia the elephant gets a birthday treat from Perth Zoo chief executive Susan Hunt on her 57th birthday. (Courtesy: Perth Zoo)