Zookeepers mourn death of second elephant in a week


Asian elephant Phyo Phyo has been put to sleep by vets at Planckendael following kidney failure, just a week after two-year-old Qiyo died suddenly

‘A very difficult decision’

Staff at Planckendael animal park are mourning the death of a second elephant in a week. Following a short illness, Phyo Phyo was put to sleep yesterday at the age of 36, seven days after her daughter Qiyo died unexpectedly.

Asian elephant Phyo Phyo was recently diagnosed with kidney failure. Keepers at the park in Mechelen attempted to keep her comfortable with medication and specialised food, but her condition worsened more quickly than expected. She had difficulty eating and continued to lose weight, and in recent days had been in obvious pain.

“We did everything we could to save Phyo Phyo,” the zoo’s animal care coordinator, Ben Van Dyck, said. “Letting her go hurts me terribly. I will miss her and will always remember her. Now we must take special care of her baby, Tarzen, who will have to find a place in the herd where he can grow up.”

Phyo Phyo was the mother of Qiyo, who died suddenly on 28 May aged two. Her other children include May Tagu and Kai-Mook, who also live at Planckendael, as well as Tarzen, the calf who was born in April.

“This evening we had to make a very difficult decision,” the zoo said in a Facebook post announcing the news. “Phyo Phyo was put out of her suffering because she was visibly in pain and the extra care we gave was to no avail. It’s hard to understand, just a week after the sudden death of two-year-old Qiyo.”

Photo: Phyo Phyo and Tarzen
(c) Jonas Verhulst/Planckendael