Lifestyle news

An elephant from Melbourne zoo has died because of subpar enclosure conditions

Peter Stroud wrote of the horrible conditions the elephant lived in for 25 years.

By Holly Royce

Tragic news today as it is revealed that Bong Su, an elephant from Melbourne Zoo, died in what one man has called avoidable circumstances.

"Bong Su is dead Not because he reached old age, but because he was broken by cramped and impoverished zoo conditions and a terrible inability, through much of his life, to meet his true needs," Peter Stroud writes for The Age.

Peter Stroud is an independent zoological consultant and formerly a senior curator of Melbourne Zoo. This is a man who knows what he's talking about when he says, "I have realised that zoos are no place for elephants."

Bong Su, who lived to be 43-years-old, was under constant care and being given high levels of medication for chronic arthritis and degenerative joint disease, but nothing could be done to ease his high level of pain.

"After 25 years in a too-small enclosure, Bong Su's life expectancy was severely compromised. Foot and joint problems are regarded as the most important health issue for captive elephants, and probably the leading reason for euthanasia," Peter Stroud said.

Zoo director Kevin Tanner told the Age that "Euthanasia is a last resort, only taken to end or prevent an animal's suffering".

A farewell has been posted on Zoos Victoria Facebook page which reads:

Bong Su was an orphan when he arrived at Melbourne Zoo in 1977 from an elephant camp in Malaysia. He leaves behind a legacy that includes his daughter and two sons at Melbourne Zoo: Mali, Ongard and Man Jai, as well as an another son at Dubbo Zoo, Pathi Harn. He was also an important ambassador for Zoos Victoria's Don't Palm Us Off campaign.

The staff at Zoos Victoria, particularly Bong Su’s keepers are understandably heartbroken and we know that many of you will also feel this loss.

An investigation is underway following up Stroud's claims.