Yani, a 34-year-old Sumatran elephant, cried before passing away in chains at the Bandung Zoo in West Java, Indonesia, on Wednesday.
Reportedly, Yani lay prone on the ground and paralyzed for over a week. After she mysteriously died on Wednesday, she was found to be covered in bruises.
Elephants are known to cry when they are feeling sad or emotional, just like humans, and Yani the elephant cried copiously before she passed away – all the while sick, paralyzed, and in chains.
— Jawa Barat INFO (@jawabarat_info) May 15, 2016
Zoo keepers had reportedly moved Yani from her cage after she became ill a week earlier, but it is not yet known what caused her death. The zoo has now been closed temporarily as officials begin an investigation into the elephant’s mysterious death.
The Jakarta Globe quoted West Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency head Sylvana Ratna as saying the elephant died at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and the agency will be conducting an investigation into her death. They will also perform an autopsy on Yani the elephant while the zoo is temporarily closed.
Saying the elephant’s death was a clear case of neglect, Ratna said if the zoo management had reported it to them earlier, they would have sent in veterinarians in an attempt to save Yani.
Zookeepers defended themselves by insisting they provided Yani with medicine and took good care of her. However, it was later revealed that the zoo hadn’t had a resident vet for a year. Reportedly, their vet resigned last year and the zoo hadn’t yet been able to find a replacement with experience in dealing with wild animals.
“Having a vet is mandatory,” Ratna said. “They haven’t had one for a year.”
As reported by Metro, Ridwan Kamil, the mayor of Bandung, visited Yani at the zoo in her last days and posted images on Instagram of himself tending to the sick elephant.
After his visit, Kamil said of the zoo, “If they don’t have the budget to manage, they should seek support.”
Reportedly, Yani the elephant was born and raised at the Way Kambas National Park in Lampung, and was relocated to Bandung Zoo when she was 12-years-old. She later gave birth to a baby elephant named Yamon in the zoo.
Indonesia: Conservation agency probes Bandung Zoo after Elephant`s death https://t.co/qUMJzVjDhT
— Ivan Kwan (@Varanussalvator) May 15, 2016
The Bandung Zoo reportedly has more than 930 animals from 200 habitats in its collection and is run by a private firm, Marga Satwa Taman Sari.
Just two days into their investigation at the Bandung Zoo, veterinarians have already exposed several problems, including poor sanitation and dilapidated cages. They also found a pen filled with deer, all suffering from an infectious skin disease.
“We found many deer that are suffering from a skin infection, which has affected the entire pen,” Indonesian Veterinarian Association (PDHI) West Java chairwoman Sri Mujiarti Ningsih said on Sunday.
“The drainage system does not work, so the pen gets too wet when it rains, thus creating a breeding ground for all sorts of diseases.”
According to Ningsih, they began their investigation on Friday and it is still ongoing, but so far they can already declare that the zoo is far below the acceptable standard.
Meanwhile, the agency is performing an autopsy on Yani the elephant while the experts continue to assess conditions at the zoo.
Femke den Haas of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network has called for clearer and tighter regulation of zoos in Indonesia, saying Yani’s death is “really just the tip of the iceberg.”