The Johannesburg Zoo mourns the loss of Kinkel, a 35-year-old male elephant who died unexpectedly yesterday after a short illness that began on Monday, Rosebank Killarney Gazette reports.
MMC for Community Development Nonhlanhla Sifumba said: “Staff worked late on Monday night and Kinkel was supervised throughout the night by his keeper, Alice [Masombuko], but yesterday morning sadly lost his battle.”
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Kinkel was born in the wild in 1983 and was easily recognisable because of the hole in his trunk inflicted by a poacher’s snare.
On the Johannesburg Zoo’s Facebook page, they described him as a boisterous and sociable elephant who was well-liked by visitors.
Kinkel suffered from colic on and off for the last 10 years. The zoo managed his condition through veterinary care and managing his diet with fibre-rich foods.
“The zoo has diet sheets for each animal, which are reviewed on a regular basis especially in cases where animals have digestive problems,” said Sifumba.
She said that a post-mortem will be conducted today to determine the cause of death. Results may be available today or in the next week depending on whether laboratory tests are done.
Masombuko, who looked after Kinkel since his arrival at the Zoo, stayed overnight with him on September 3 after he took ill.
His companion Lammie, who recently turned 39, restlessly nudged Kinkel in the hope that he would show signs of recovery. Masombuko said that Lammie’s grief was tangible as she paced up and down their once shared enclosure following Kinkel’s death.
Distraught at the unexpected loss of one of her favourite animals, Masombuko cried as she kissed her friend goodbye: “It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to one of our friends. All the elephant keepers have lost a good friend and brother.”
Sifumba said that staff who looked after Kinkel will receive counselling as they were all very emotional about the sudden loss.