Pakistan: FOUR PAWS to help suffering elephant Noor Jehan at Karachi Zoo

Two of Pakistan’s last four captive African elephants live in dire conditions despite expert recommendation for relocation


APRIL 4 2023 – A team of veterinarians and wildlife experts from global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS, has arrived in Karachi, Pakistan. Upon urgent request of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), who runs Karachi Zoo, they will help with the health assessment and treatment of the deteriorating condition of elephant Noor Jehan.

Recent reports and images show Noor Jehan in serious physical distress. The 17-year-old African elephant will receive a thorough veterinary examination to determine her future care.

Since 2021, FOUR PAWS has strongly recommended to relocate Noor Jehan and her companion Madhubala from Karachi Zoo, as it does not comply with international standards, to a species-appropriate place that offers better living conditions for the elephants. However, no measures to relocate them have been taken.

FOUR PAWS vet Dr. Amir Khalil leads a team of veterinarians and wildlife experts who are 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. They will evaluate Noor Jehan’s health, provide immediate treatment and pain relief enrichment for Noor Jehan. Moreover, the team will work with the local authorities in finding a species-appropriate long-term solution for all four African elephants in Karachi.

“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. During the veterinary examination we now have to find out if and how we can improve Noor Jehan’s current condition. We will also provide our guidance and expertise for the relocation of the African elephants in order to facilitate species-appropriate rehabilitation and a sustainable solution for Noor Jehan and Madhubala. In Noor Jehan’s case we also have to be prepared for all possible outcomes after we have examined her,” says Dr. Khalil.

In a statement, Josef Pfabigan, global CEO of FOUR PAWS, explained, “Pakistan has taken great steps for animal welfare in the last three years by protecting the natural rights of animals under the Constitution and banning elephant imports, as recommended by FOUR PAWS. However, the lack of action to improve the lives of the elephants at Karachi Zoo is a setback. FOUR PAWS has a commitment from the local zoo officials to collaborate further and find sustainable solutions for the elephants, and the Prime Minister recently announced plans to close the zoo. We have already seen what strategic policy work and good relations between animal welfare experts and local officials can achieve, and we hope that we can achieve even more together. By building a strong foundation for animal welfare, we can make a change for suffering animals, in Pakistan and worldwide.”

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. 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.


FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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