Kashin's health issues too much to bear

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Kashin was a favourite with zoo staff and with generations of visitors. Photo / Supplied
Kashin was a favourite with zoo staff and with generations of visitors. Photo / Supplied

Auckland Zoo will be closed today as staff grieve the loss of 40-year-old Kashin the Elephant, who died yesterday.

The female Asian elephant, who had chronic arthritis and foot abscesses, was euthanised after her health deteriorated.

Former ASB Bank marketing team member Paul Gleeson, who arranged for Kashin to be brought to Auckland Zoo, remembers her bumpy arrival.

"When I got out to the airport, I was overtaken by all these fire engines and ambulances ... The pilot was getting ready for a crash landing and I was worried about my elephant inside."

Mr Gleeson said Kashin's name was a play on "cash-in", but also meant "compassionate" in Hindi.

The elephant played a big part in the ASB's marketing, especially in encouraging children to save.

Said Mr Gleeson: "There were plastic elephant money boxes at every [ASB] bank.

You could come in with your money saved, get it out and be given a new one. The kids loved it because it was Kashin."

Auckland City Mayor John Banks said Kashin's death was a huge loss for the zoo and for the generations of Aucklanders who had met and come to love her.

"A truly magnificent animal with a big heart, a great personality and a beautiful nature has left us."

Mr Banks said a proposal to get a herd of up to five elephants was still in the works.

But the priority now was on caring for Burma, the zoo's remaining 26-year-old elephant.

Former Melbourne Zoo elephant keeper Richard Kudeweh said Burma would be suffering because of Kashin's death. "She will grieve. She will definitely miss her and she'll probably be down in her demeanour."

Mr Kudeweh - who now works at the Hamilton Zoo - said moves to get another elephant to keep Burma company would be beneficial to the elephant and the zoo.

Auckland Zoo senior vet Richard Jakob-Hoff said staff had monitored the elephant for several months, but her condition became significantly worse over the weekend.

"Despite being on pain relief, she was showing signs of being in pain. Kashin was such a spirited animal - it was clear to us that her condition had deteriorated."

Dr Jakob-Hoff said Kashin had become depressed and withdrawn.

"We realised that it would be unfair to let her continue like this.

"Our primary concern was for her quality of life."

- NZ Herald

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