Elephants Noor Jehan and Mahubala at Karachi Zoo

Pakistan's last captive elephants

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Karachi elephant assessment

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In November 2021, the Sindh High Court in Pakistan called on FOUR PAWS to assess the wellbeing of four African elephants in Karachi Zoo and Karachi Safari Park in Pakistan. All female, between the ages of 16 and 17, they are the last known captive elephants in the country. The assessment found all elephants in need of proper diet, enrichment, and medical treatment. FOUR PAWS also strongly recommended that all four elephants be reunited at Karachi Safari Park.

The elephants – caught in the wild at a young age – came to Pakistan together in 2009 and were separated after their arrival. Noor Jehan and Madhubala were moved to Karachi Zoo while Malika and Sonu were brought to Karachi Safari Park.

Follow our journey to help these elephants come together in a species-appropriate environment.

Help us to help them

2023

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December 7th

In a waiting position
Madhubala is responding positively to the training and is improving quickly. This intelligent girl enjoys the training immensely and displays remarkable bravery and cooperation. The training is not only a necessary preparation for her transport but also a positive and crucial enrichment for Madhubala, as solitary confinement had a profound negative impact on her mental health.

 However, we find ourselves again in waiting for a response from the authorities. Until an official reply is received to advance with the next steps, FOUR PAWS is unable to help and proceed with the required steps for the relocation, including the final preparations at the Safari Park. Days and months have passed, leaving Madhubala in solitary confinement, in poor and noisy living conditions. We are looking forward to working together with KMC on the next steps.

Crate training for Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

November 10th

Progress at Karachi Zoo
Madhubala has taken her first steps into the transport crate last week! She was curious but also careful, testing the ground with her trunk before taking the next step. Now she already enters the crate easily and is comfortable staying within it for some time. She even managed to come out of the crate backwards! We are so proud of her, and it fills our hearts with joy to see her so motivated
 
Now the zoo staff will continue the training with Madhubala following the recommendations of our experts and only applying positive reinforcement. They will maintain the daily routine, incorporating crate feeding, and continue with her overall training. Time is still needed to prep Madhubala for the transfer. Patience is key as Madhubala occasionally takes a step back, a natural part of the learning process

As for now, there is no fixed date for her relocation. Various variables influence the transfer timeline, encompassing the completion of essential constructions and improvements at the Safari Park, the successful culmination of training, and the acquisition of necessary permits and government documents. 

We 
can't wait to see her reunited with her sisters Malika and Sonia at Karachi Safari Park after all the important and necessary adjustments and extensions to the enclosure are completed. The plan is to triple the area of the enclosure so that the three elephants have a large space to roam around, take cover under trees, and access the pool or take a mud bath. We hope for lonely Madhubala that this day will come soon. 

Crate for Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

November 2nd

Crate training Madhubala
Last week, our elephant expert arrived in Karachi to commence the crate training with lonely elephant Madhubala. In preparation for beginning the training, the transport crate was positioned inside Madhubala's enclosure at the end of August, and the floor beneath it was leveled to ensure the crate remained stable and wouldn't startle Madhubala. 
 
So far, the beloved elephant is in good physical condition, but her solitary confinement has had a profound impact on her mental health. She exhibits aggressive behavior stemming from immense frustration regarding her situation. Her only companion is a car tire that she carries around all day. According to our elephant expert, her behavior with the tire indicates that her mental health has suffered due to prolonged solitary confinement, and she is using this tire as a coping mechanism. 

The crate training is not only a necessary preparation for her transport, but a positive and crucial enrichment for Madhubala. She displays great motivation but approaches the new ground cautiously, always testing it with her trunk before taking a step forward. We are immensely proud of her, and we eagerly await the opportunity to remove her from this distressing living condition and reunite her with her sisters, 
Malika and Sonia at the Safari Park. 

We appreciate the extended support by the Mayor of Karachi for 
facilitating our team in their preparations for Madhubala’s big move. Our gratitude to all those helping us in getting Madhubala ready for her big day - the urgently needed relocation. 

Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

October 20th

Good news from Karachi
Progress is once again underway in Karachi. We have received the green light to resume our preparations for the urgently needed relocation of lonely elephant Madhubala with the support of KMC and the Task Force (a group of experts working for the wellbeing of the Karachi elephants).
 
 
In the upcoming weeks, our husbandry expert and elephant specialist will be traveling to Karachi to initiate the crate training with Madhubala at the zoo. This training is crucial to ensure that Madhubala willingly enters the crate on her big moving day and remains calm during transport. Our experts will not only work with Madhubala but also with her mahouts on how to conduct positive reinforcement training. 

The mission in Karachi holds a special place in our hearts, as we have dedicated our efforts to working towards a better future for elephants for 
nearly 2 years now. Our efforts will not stop until Madhubala is liberated from the noisy zoo, the poor living conditions, and the solitary confinement, and is reunited with her sisters Malika and Sonia in the expanded area of the Safari Park.

Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

October 3rd

Continuing the preparations
It has been over a month since our team returned from Karachi, and during this time, we have been forced to wait, relying on the authorities and KMC to send an official invitation and approve the plans that will enable us to proceed with preparations for the urgent relocation of Madhubala. 
 
Currently, Madhubala is in good physical condition for transportation, but her time in solitary confinement has taken a toll on her mental health. This lonely elephant urgently needs to be reunited with her sisters, Malika and Sonia, at the Safari Park. However, to make this happen, significant improvements must be made at the Safari Park to ensure the well-being and safety of the elephants, keepers, and visitors. This process is estimated to take at least 1.5 months. When our team returned from Karachi, we were content with what we had initiated and accomplished during our stay: Madhubala's transport crate has been completed and delivered to the zoo, and our elephant expert is ready to start with the crate training for her to feel comfortable during the transport. We also met with architects, engineers, and construction workers at the Safari Park to discuss and advise on the necessary improvements to the elephant enclosure.   

We are committed to seeing Pakistan's last three elephants roaming in a spacious and species-appropriate enclosure. 
We need to act now by assisting with the reconstruction efforts of her new home before we start training Madhubala for the big moving day.

Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

August 27th 

Visit to Madhubala, Mailika, and Sonia
After the meeting with the newly elected Mayor Murtaza Wahab, where we received the green light for Madhubala’s relocation and the urgently needed improvements of the enclosure of the Safari Park, our team couldn't wait to check on Madhubala. She is physically healthy and fit to travel, but the solitary keeping after Noor Jehan's death affects her a lot. Female elephants are highly social creatures. Madhubala seems bored, apathetic, and sad. Her relocation is more urgent than ever. She needs to leave the loneliness and the noise of Karachi Zoo and be reunited with her family to improve physically and mentally again

After our visit, and a stop to check on how the transport crate was progressing, we drove to the Safari Park to see Sonia and Malika and to talk to the senior architect to discuss the necessary improvements that need to be completed at the Safari Park. 
We were happy to see Mailika and Sonia in good health  and can't wait to see the three female elephants meeting again after 14 years.

Madhubala | Karachi Zoo

August 24th

Green light to relocate Madhubala
The FOUR PAWS team has returned to Pakistan to continue its efforts to free Madhubala from solitary keeping. By relocating her from Karachi Zoo to Safari Park,  Madhubala will have space to roam in a large, green enclosure and will be reunited with her family, Sonia and Malika, from whom she was separated 14 years ago. The government has dedicated a pool and additional land of 1.5 acres for the elephant enclosure at the Safari Park, as an initial step before establishing an even larger elephant sanctuary.  Read more. 

FOUR PAWS team examines Madhubala

May 31st

Noor Jehan's Autopsy Report
The examination of Noor Jehan in April this year showed that she had suffered an inner hematoma with a damaged pelvic diaphragm, likely caused by trauma. The team also conducted laboratory tests which showed a severe parasitic infection in her blood. To prevent 
Madhubala from succumbing to the same fate as Noor Jehan, the team also tested her blood, which was positive for the parasite. Madhubala has since been on medication. Once free from the parasitic infection, she will be ready for relocation. Please support our work to get Madhubala into a species-appropriate home. 

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May 15th

Noor Jehan's Legacy and Madhubala's Future
After the tragic death of Noor Jehan, her friend Madhubala recently entered the enclosure for the first time to say goodbye. For health and safety reasons, giving Madhubala this chance sooner was impossible. She went straight to the place under the tree where Noor Jehan fought for her life. The authorities announced that they would dedicate land to build an elephant sanctuary with the support of FOUR PAWS. We will do everything in our power 
so Madhubala can enjoy the rest of her life in a species-appropriate place. Please support our work. 

Elephant Noor Jehan

April 22nd

A heartbreaking goodbye to Noor Jehan
Noor Jehan passed away this morning. Despite all our tireless efforts and the endless work of the team on-site, we could not get her back on her feet. She fought for days but succumbed to her critical condition. As agreed with the authorities, we recommend that Madhubala should be relocated as soon as possible to a species appropriate place to at least give her a chance at a better life. Noor Jehan's tragic story is a reminder of the suffering that captive wild animals endure in Pakistan and around the world. 

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April 21st

Noor Jehan's story
Until the authorities make a decision about Noor Jehan's future, we will continue working hard to help her and ease her pain. There is a chance that she can recover and we will do all we can for her. FOUR PAWS is returning as soon as possible to Karachi to support in its best capacity. We want to thank all the volunteers and the mahouts who have been on Noor Jehan’s site day and night over the last week, even during the special times of Ramadan. They are all doing their best to comfort her: turning her from side to side, feeding her food and medicine. Watch the video to learn more about Noor Jehan. Please support our work to help animals like Noor Jehan.

Elephant Noor Jehan at Karachi Zoo

April 19th

Noor Jehan's life still hangs in the balance
A committee of national and international experts and veterinarians will advise on how to proceed with Noor Jehan’s future. Until the government has formed a decision, we will continue to help and ease her suffering. At the same time, we are still concerned about the relocation of Madhubala. The federal and Sindh government are considering shutting down the Karachi Zoo permanently. This could be a turning point for the welfare of wild animals in captivity in Pakistan. Please support our efforts.

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April 17th

A critical situation for Noor Jehan
Sadly, despite best efforts and ongoing supervision and support from FOUR PAWS, the health condition of Noor Jehan is not improving. Although we have made several attempts, she is unable to stand on her own, and her condition remains critical and uncertain. An urgent committee of international and national experts and veterinarians will advise on how to proceed with Noor Jehan's future. Meanwhile, the on-site team is doing everything possible to ease her suffering, and we appreciate everyone involved in this effort. We urge for the immediate transfer of the healthy elephant, Madhubala, to prevent another tragedy.

Noor Jehan's condition worsens

April 13th

New worries about Noor Jehan
FOUR PAWS received an urgent call about Noor Jehan. She was already laying for some hours in the pool in her enclosure, unable to get up by herself. The FOUR PAWS team immediately advised to arrange a crane to get her out of the pool and worked until late at night together with the local team via video calls to find possible solutions to save her and provide emergency medical treatment. Noor Jehan is weak and resting on the sand pile next to the tree, but our team is constantly monitoring and supervising her, giving her the best care possible. We won't give up on her!

Dr. Amir Khalil and Noor Jehan

April 6th

Noor Jehan's diagnosis 
Noor Jehan's examination was a success! The team supported her with ropes carried by a crane to perform the planned assessment. Due to her condition Noor Jehan wasn't strong enough to stand on her own. The examination showed that she had suffered an inner hematoma with a damaged pelvic diaphragm, likely caused by a trauma. This explains her pain and unusual body position. The team conducted numerous tests and treated her open wounds as well as applied medications, vitamins, pain killers, and hydrotherapy. The following days after the examination we could already see slight improvements and there is hope of recovery if the Zoo follows the mandatory recommendations by FOUR PAWS. 

Elephant Noor Jehan at Karachi Zoo

April 4th

Back at Karachi Zoo
Today our team arrived in Karachi and rushed to the Zoo to get an impression of Noor Jehan’s condition and to finalise the logistics planning for the important examination. Due to her immobilisation Noor Jehan needs to be stabilised and our team came up with a special plan for that: the elephant will be supported with a crane and ropes during the planned sedation and examination. Just from looking into her eyes we can see the pain Noor Jehan is in. Her partner Madhubala often stands next to her to protect her. Tomorrow will be an important day, which should give us more clarity about the reason for Noor Jehan‘s deteriorating health condition. 

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April 3rd

Emergency Mission for Noor Jehan
Elephant Noor Jehan is in urgent need of help! Since our evaluation in August and our recommendation to relocate the two zoo elephants, nothing has been done. Now heartbreaking footage from the Karachi Zoo shows Noor Jehan in critical health condition! She can hardly put weight on her hind limbs – this body posture indicates that she is in excruciating pain. FOUR PAWS has finally received the invitation from the Karachi authorities to help Noor Jehan, and our team of veterinarians is rushing to Karachi right now to provide urgent medical help. We urge the authorities to relocate Noor Jehan and Madhubala to a safer, species-appropriate home! Please support our mission to help Noor Jehan. 

2022

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October

Health Status Update of all four elephants
Both Noor Jehan and Madhubala are pain free and their wounds are healing well! We receive regular updates on their recovery process from the caretakers and local veterinarians. The keepers treat the elephants wounds twice a day, and the local vets check on the healing process regularly. At the end of September, the elephants had finished their antibiotics and anti-inflammatory treatment.

We are also receiving regular reports from Safari Park on the conditions of the feet of elephants Malika and Sonja, and we are incredibly happy to see the progress the caretakers achieved through regular foot care. Watch this moving video for a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to make this mission possible.

Elephant Noor Jehan at Karachi Zoo

August 18th

Noor Jehan is recovering well
Our team of veterinarian experts successfully operated on Noor Jehan today. The surgery lasted nearly four hours. While the surrounding tissue was severely infected, the tusk was not as rotten as Madhubala's. The team cut and flattened the tusk and then removed the inflamed tissue. Like Madhubala, Noor Jehan received pain killers, antibiotics, and vaccinations. The team didn’t find any inflammations, but a small tumor which was removed, and samples were sent to the laboratory. The elephants will receive post-operational treatment.

Madhubala receives dental surgery | Karachi Zoo | 2023

August 17th

Madhubala's operation was a success
After more than 5 intense hours, our team on site is happy to report that the surgery went well and elephant Madhubala is feeling fine! The tooth was 40 cm long and rotten, which is why it was difficult to remove in one piece. The root is still inside but with flushing twice a day, we expect the healing process to go well – inside and out. Madhubala, is already eating! We are very happy about the results and are excited for tomorrow's treatment of Noor Jehan. 

Surgery preparations

August 16th

Team is on-site and preparing
Our team is on site at Karachi Zoo and spent all of yesterday making the final preparations for Noor Jehan and Madhubala's upcoming extraordinary dental surgery. Much of the equipment had to be custom-made by hand for such giant patients, thus, our team has been working toward this operation for months – organising, training the elephants, and building the special tools.
 
 
Tomorrow, the veterinarian experts will  operate on Madhubala, and then Noor Jehan the following day. 
We also visited Malika and Sonu at the Karachi Safari Park and were happy to see that they are doing fine. The caretakers received training on how to take care of the elephants' feet, which already look much better! 

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August 11th

Training the elephants for surgery
Mathias Otto, an elephant specialist, is already on site for our arrival in Karachi next week. His mission is to use positive reinforcement training to prepare Noor Jehan and Madhubala to lift their trunks for their surgeries. Both elephants are quick learners and have welcomed the additional attention and exercise.

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August 10th

Urgnent dental surgery needed
The situation for Noor Jehan and Madhubala has worsened. There is a lot of swelling around Noor Jehan's tusk sockets, a sign that they are seriously infected, not to mention causing her great pain. Such an infection could travel up into her skull and potentially cause brain damage and even blindness! Madhubala’s condition also requires immediate attention.

FOUR PAWS can help! The High Court of Sindh in Pakistan has appointed Dr Amir Khalil and the FOUR PAWS team to treat Noor Jehan and Madhubala. We have already started with preparations. Please support our mission to help these poor animals.

2021
Assessment of four elephants in Karachi, Pakistan

November 30th 

Elephant assessment in Karachi, Pakistan
Following an invitation by the Sindh High Court, the FOUR PAWS team travelled to Karachi, Pakistan to carry out a two-day independent assessment of the wellbeing of the four African elephants in Karachi Zoo and Karachi Safari Park. Among the recommendations given, the team, led by Dr Amir Khalil found elephants Noor Jehan, Madhubala in need of dental surgery due to infections caused by broken-off tusks. This unique surgery  required the development of special tools and equipment. Read more about the assessment and the outlook for the future of these elephants here.

Dr Amir Khalil in Karaschi, Pakistan

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