Just a week after an escaped lioness was shot dead at the animal park Planckendael near Mechelen, another elephant has died, following the recent deaths of two others. Tarzen, just 11 weeks old, died this week. His mother, Phyo Phyo, died on 4 June. His mother’s condition during gestation had already weakened the baby’s health, and her death in his infancy left him even more vulnerable, park authorities said.
On Tuesday he collapsed, and despite veterinary intervention, he never recovered.
“Baby elephant Tarzen died yesterday,” the park announced on Wednesday. “It was never meant to be. His carers worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week to tackle Tarzen’s problems.”
The recent wave of elephant deaths is a blow to the decision by the Antwerp Zoo, which is the authority over Planckendael, to rehouse its elephants to the park, where they have an extensive space to move around in, rather than the cramped conditions of the Egyptian-style temple which was their home in Antwerp.
“He was very fragile when he was born, and couldn’t get enough milk from his mother,” a zoo spokesperson said. “The bottles we gave him shortly after his birth he drank happily. After the death of his mother we took full control of his care, to make sure he always got his bottle. And we could see small but hopeful signs. We thought he was through the difficult times, and had turned the corner. Unfortunately we have to report that it’s all over.”
Tarzen’s older sister Qiyo died on 28 May, and his mother a week later.