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Thursday, February 22, 2024  
11 Shaban 1445  

KMC forms committee to care for ailing elephant Noor Jehan

Asifa Bhutto gifted six fans for the elephant
The photo shows ailing elephant Noor Jehan propped up on a mound of sand against a tree inside her enclosure at the Karachi Zoo. Photo via Four Paws
The photo shows ailing elephant Noor Jehan propped up on a mound of sand against a tree inside her enclosure at the Karachi Zoo. Photo via Four Paws

Administrator Karachi Dr Saif-ur-Rehman has formed a 9-member committee for taking care of Karachi Zoo’sailing elephant Noor Jehan.

The committee comprises of:

  • Dr Amir Khalil, Veterinarian, Director of Reveal and Response from Four Paws
  • Dr Marina Ivanova, Senior Veterinarian, Four Paws International
  • Dr Frank Göritz, Head Veterinarian, Leibniz Institute of Wildlife and Zoo Research, Germany
  • Dr Thomas Hildebrandt, HOD Reproduction Department, Leibniz Institute of Wildlife and Zoo Research
  • Dr. Mansoor Qazi, Ex-Senior Director, Karachi Zoo and Safari, KMC
  • Dr. Isma Gheewala , Animal Care Center,Karachi
  • Dr. Amir Rizvi, Deputy Director, Karachi Zoo, KMC
  • Dr. Imran Rasheed, Associate Professor, Department of Parasitology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore
  • Dr. Kazim Hussain, Member Panel of Zoo Experts for Karachi Zoo and Safari Park

The members of the KMC-nominated committee will submit their suggestions and recommendations to Administrator Karachi for the treatment and welfare of Noor Jehan, as well as providing the elephant with a natural environment.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s younger daughter Asifa Bhutto gifted six fans for the elephant.

Asifa Bhutto says that these fans have been delivered to protect Noor Jahan from the heat.

Zoo officials say that local doctors are giving vitamins to Noor Jehan.The elephant’s sitting position was changed on Tuesday morning.

Zoo director says there has been no improvement in Noor Jehan’s condition

Karachi Zoo’s 17-year-old ailing elephant, Noor Jehan, is getting weaker by the day and is unable to stand. On Monday, April 17th, Zoo director, Kanwar Ayub, said that there has been no improvement in the condition of the sick elephant.

Director Zoo, Kanwar Ayub, said that the treatment of Noor Jehan is ongoing and the team of vets and zoo keepers is trying their best to make her stand.

He said that Four Paws will finalize its plan as to who will be on the team by Monday night, after which the team of doctors will reach Pakistan.

Director Zoo said various blood tests of Noor Jehan are being done today. A detailed ultrasound of Noor Jahan is also being done once again and all the tests are being done on the instructions of doctors of Four Paws.

He said that Noor Jahan could not try to stand due to weakness but he is hopeful that she will recover soon.

Four Paws team asked to come back

On, Saturday, April 15th, the Karachi Zoo director officially asked the Four Paws Team to come back as Noor Jehan’s condition gets worse. He said that hopefully, the team will arrive in 2-3 days.

Zoo Director, Kanwar Ayub, said that the Four Paws team is being kept up to date about the elephant’s health. “An official email has been sent to invite the Four Paws team to Pakistan,” he said.

Zoo authorities are treating elephant Noor Jahan on the instructions of the Four Paws team. Karachi Zoo vets are giving various medicines to her and are using a crane to help the ailing elephant change positions.

The zoo keepers and local vets are giving Noor Jehan soft food, multivitamin drips, green grass, melon, sugarcane, jaggery rice, and watermelon.

According to sources, Four Paws is bearing the expenses of the treatment of the sick elephant, while the zoo administration is facing severe financial difficulties during the treatment.

On Thursday, a crane was used to remove the Noor Jehan from a dry pond, the expenses included crane rent, tent, laying sand, and other items.

Sources said that the non-medical expenses during the elephant’s illness are estimated to be around Rs 1 million a day.

Noor Jehan falls into a pond

Ailing elephant Noor Jehan’s condition deteriorated on Thursday as she fell into a dry pond at Karachi Zoo, Aaj News reported Friday.

She fell into the pond located inside her cage on Thursday morning. The Zoo administration lifted her out with help of a crane in the evening.

Zoo director, Kunwar Ayub, said that before the Four Paws team left, Dr Amir Khalil clearly stated that Noor Jehan’s condition is that of an ICU patient and she should be treated as such.

Administrator Karachi Dr Saif-ur-Rehman said that Noor Jehan started bathing in the pond around 8:30 am on Thursday morning. He said that this is her usual bathing spot but yesterday she stepped into the pond.

“When she stayed in the pond until evening we started getting worried as to why she was still in there. This is when we consulted four paws on a video call,” he said.

Four Paws was called for urgent help yesterday and informed that Noor Jehan is laying in the pool in her enclosure since the morning and cannot get up by herself, Four Paws said in a statement.

The Four Paws team, which was examining Noor Jehan one week ago, immediately asked to have a video call with the local team, consisting of Four Paws local veterinarians, the zoo director, and volunteers.

The local team under the support and supervision of Four Paws succeeded to get the elephant out of the pool with a crane, supporting the elephant with ropes and belts, and placing her on the sand pile next to the tree, not being able to stand alone on her own feet.

“She was very exhausted and weak for several hours, the situation is very critical for Noor Jehan,” the team said. The vets provided emergency medical treatment, including infusions, and food, like sugar cane juice to give her some energy.

Administrator Karachi Dr Saif-ur-Rehman said that Four Paws have given the zoo keepers a month-long medication plan.

“We’re strictly following the doctor’s orders and treatment plan and monitoring her 24/7. We’re also ensuring that the physiotherapy is being carried out properly,” he said.

The Four Paws team said that Noor Jehan is still laying on the sand pile next to the tree, she and the team are very exhausted. The team worked very hard until late at night to position her correctly and gave her lots of infusions, constantly monitored and supervised by Four Paws.

People from the zoo and local volunteers came to help and support Noor Jehan. Once she gets a bit more rest, the team on-site will try to lift her again.

The Four Paws team is currently working with the local team via video calls about possible solutions to save her. “We are doing our best to help her and hope she will recover soon! As already recommended last year, the elephants of Karachi Zoo need to be relocated to a species-appropriate place,” the statement read.

Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari said in a tweet that the Karachi Zoo should be shut down. She is the eldest child of former president Asif Ali Zardari and late prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The ailing elephant was unable to move after she was lifted out from the pond around 5 PM local time, sources said.

According to medical experts, elephants do not sit for long.

Four Paws team examines Noor Jahan

A Four Paws team last week announced that a medical examination of Karachi Zoo’s ailing elephant was a success. The team together with the support of the zoo caretakers “fixated and stabilized” Noor Jehan with ropes carried by a crane.

As soon as she was in the right position the experts started to sedate her in order to perform the planned assessment. However, once the sedation started to work, Noor Jehan was not strong enough to stand on her own feet, even with the support of the crane. Seeing this, the vets gave her the prepared antidotes to reverse the sedation.

Luckily, it was still possible to carry on with the examination as the team managed to calm her down by talking and standing by her side while the expert vets performed their procedures.

The examination started with the thermal infrared camera which showed no broken bones. The ultrasound results revealed the cause of her severe condition.

What went wrong with Noor Jehan

“We could detect inner hematoma with a damaged pelvic diaphragm. These findings showed clearly that trauma must have happened, which has caused her painful health condition and also explains her unusual body position,” a vet from the team explained.

Hematoma is a medical term for “a pool of mostly clotted blood that forms in an organ, tissue, or body space.”

In Noor Jehan’s case hematoma continues to compress the urethra and disturbs urination, which influences kidney function, the Four Paws team said.

The vet said that there is a lot of gas in Noor Jehan’s intestines due to long-term immobilization. Also due to the unusual posture of the body, the ligaments of her hind legs shortened and the muscles atrophied. It other words, Noor Jehan’s hind legs have been damaged due to lack of movement.

“To treat her she needs a lot of movement to activate and train the muscles again, which will also improve gastrointestinal mobility. A special diet is required to reduce the amount of gas in the intestines,” the vet said.

The veterinarians also conducted laboratory and histology tests and treatment of open wounds. The team applied medications, vitamins, painkillers, and hydrotherapy.

Four Paws to prepare special recommendations

The Four Paws team will prepare special recommendations for Noor Jehan’s medical treatment on Thursday as well as enrichment in the enclosure which will help relieve the pain and speed up the recovery.


The team of vets started examining the ailing elephant Noor Jehan at the Karachi Zoo on Wednesday morning. They were planning to conduct an endoscopic examination, x-ray, ultrasound, and additional laboratory tests.

Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, meanwhile, has approved the construction of an animal hospital in the Karachi Zoo.

“Right now, we’re working hard to ensure that Noor Jehan recovers and doesn’t fall, if she falls in this condition, she won’t be able to stand up again,” veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil said while speaking to Daily Scoop TV. He said that all four African elephants in Karachi deserve to live in better conditions

Dr Marina Ivanova, a veterinarian on the Four Paws team, said that the chances of Noor Jehan surviving were 50/50.

Demand for relocating her

The animal welfare organization had strongly recommended relocating the ailing Noor Jehan and her companion Madhubala from Karachi Zoo in 2021 as it does “not comply” with international standards, to a species-appropriate place that offers better living conditions for the elephants.

“Noor Jehan has problems with her hind limbs that have left her limping and further developing partial paralysation,” said the press release.

The statement was released after the arrival of Four Paws team to the Karachi Zoo to get a first close look at the ailing elephant and to finalise the logistic planning for Wednesday. Recent reports and images show Noor Jehan in serious health condition and physical distress.

In the afternoon, the animal organisation had a meeting with Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Administrator Syed Saifur Rehman. The KMC welcomed the visiting team and prepared the needed tools for the planned activities.

But, the KMC’s Twitter feed did not speak about the recommendation of Four Paws.

“They are working together on finding a good and species-appropriate solution for the elephants, as this is the most important aspect for the team now, along with hopefully improving Noor Jehan’s health, Four Paws PR International Officer Katharina Braun told Aaj News.

When asked about the local caretakers, she said they did the best they could with limited resources, like a lack of medication or equipment.

The team of veterinarians and wildlife experts team was led by vet Dr Amir Khalil. It includes already familiar with the Karachi elephants, including Dr Frank Göritz and Prof Dr Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), and Dr Marina Ivanova from Four Paws.

“It is clear from the footage we have seen that Noor Jehan is in serious pain and suffering. She has problems with her hind limbs that have left her limping, partially paralysed and in physical distress. Seeing this is particularly heartbreaking as it might have been prevented, had the elephants been relocated already, as the zoo does not comply international standards,” Dr Khalil said.

The organisation termed the next day as important and hoped that it would give the team more clarity about the reason of Noor Jehan’s deteriorating health condition and possible treatment. Due to her immobilization unique measures need to be taken for the examination procedure, it added.

Josef Pfabigan, the organisation’s global CEO, praised Pakistan for taking “great steps” for animal welfare in the last three years that included protecting the natural rights of animals under the Constitution and banning elephant imports. But, he said the lack of action to improve the lives of the elephants at Karachi Zoo was a “setback”.

“By building a strong foundation for animal welfare, we can make a change for suffering animals, in Pakistan and worldwide,” he added.

Team on site:

  • Dr Amir Khalil, Veterinarian
  • Dr Marina Ivanova, Veterinarian
  • Dr Frank Göritz, Veterinarian
  • Prof Dr Hildebrandt, Veterinarian
  • Pia Einheimler, Field Mission Coordinator
  • Sandra Hönisch, Press Coordinator
  • Mathias Otto, Elephant husbandry expert

Last four captive African elephants in Pakistan

All four elephants in Karachi were caught in the wild by a Pakistani animal trader at a very young age in Tanzania and arrived in Pakistan in 2009, according to Four Paws.

Noor Jehan and Madhubala were moved to Karachi Zoo while Malika and Sonu were brought to Karachi Safari Park. According to official information, they are the last four African elephants in captivity in Pakistan.

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