The big, beautiful Tricia, believed to be one of the oldest elephants in the world, has passed away at the age of 65, marking the end of an era for Perth Zoo.
Immediately, tributes poured in for the Asian elephant that took pictures and entertained countless visitors at the zoological park in nearly six decades.
“Tricia was not only known, she was also loved,” Prime Minister Mark McGowan said in a statement.
“Her figure and grace were captivating. To many, she was a Perth icon.
“For six decades she was an integral part of every visit to the Perth Zoo.
“If you’ve lived in Perth at some point in your life, you probably have a memory of Tricia.”
Her death on Wednesday night, said to have been the result of age-related complications and expected to trigger the closure of the zoo’s elephant exhibit, was not unexpected.
Vets and Tricia’s caretakers kept a close eye on her health for a while before her health deteriorated rapidly, McGowan’s office said, describing the elephant as one of the oldest in the world and the oldest to be cared for by a zoo in Australasia.
“Tricia’s last moments were peaceful. On Wednesday evening, July 6, 2022, she was surrounded by her caretakers at her night house,” the statement said.
The zoo wants mourners to donate to the Tricia Tribute to Conservation Fund rather than send flowers, to create a “lasting legacy for this extraordinary animal.”
The fund aims to support the zoo’s conservation efforts and to build an elephant sentry in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, to monitor and protect one of the last remaining wild herds of Sumatran elephants.
Named after a Miss Australia winner, six-year-old Tricia arrived in Western Australia from Vietnam in 1963 and has captivated audiences in Perth ever since.
Funds from the sale of her popular artworks go to protect the endangered Sumatran elephants.
“She knows how to take a piece of your heart and she doesn’t give it back,” elephant keeper Kristy Carey said Tuesday, before the huge mammal died.
“There will be a huge gap missing when she goes.”
Perth Zoo will be holding a memorial walk on Sunday to give the public a chance to pay their respects to the matriarch.
“As an ambassador animal, Tricia had a monumental impact on the conservation of her species and it is heartwarming to see this continue after her passing,” said Environment Secretary Reece Whitby.
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“I would like to encourage everyone to honor and say goodbye to Tricia by attending the memorial walk or sharing memories of Tricia online on the Perth Zoo website.”