Elephant Annabel's tragic fall

2nd March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The elephant Annabel was rescued from a ditch in a Drenthe zoo, but was unable to stand afterward.

EMMEN—Caretakers of the elephant Annabel are in mourning. The 45-year-old Asian elephant from the zoo in Emmen who fell into a dry ditch Sunday afternoon was unable to stand up on her own hours after being rescued.

Firemen tried to intervene by propping Annabel up with air cushions later in the afternoon, but she was still unable to hold her own weight.

Annabel was caught in a ditch outdoors with her legs stuck against the edge of the ditch, and was unable to get out on her own. Zoo personnel attempted unsuccessfully to ease the three-ton animal out on their own with wooden beams. A large crane arrived around 6:30 to lift her out.

Twenty to 30 zoo personnel stood around Annabel, feeding her bread as a distraction.

Annabel came from Thailand where she was purchased from an elephant labour camp. Caretakers locked up her elephant family members as a precautionary measure. Allowing them to roam freely could pose a threat to personnel.

Caretakers described her condition earlier in the day as worrisome. She went into life-threatening shock, and received an infusion from the veternarian.

Elephants fall into the ditch regularly, but usually they can get themselves out.

Annabel was put to sleep last night after repeated attempts to help her stand were unsuccessful. She was the oldest elephant in the zoo.

A spokesperson for the zoo announced Monday that there were no plans for improvements to the elephant’s outside home. The zoo doesn’t have the space to modify the area.

In the wild, Asian elephants are adept at walking along cliffs, and ditches, and can easily do so without risk.

Annabel has been taken for autopsy to the Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Utrecht. The rest of the elephants were unable to bid her farewell, and will be allowed to go outside again Monday.

Elephants from the Emmen zoo aren’t intended for educative purposes; hence, Annabel will not be put on display. Ramon, a male elephant from the Rotterdam zoo who died in 1998 while mating, is on display in Rotterdam's Natuur Museum. But for caretakers of Annabel, that would be too heart wrenching to see.

ANP/Lila Lundquist/Expatica

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