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​The Johannesburg Zoo is mourning the passing of Kinkel - a 35 year-old male elephant who died on Tuesday morning.

The cause of death is still unknown, but the elephant, which was very dear to the Zoo and its patrons alike, took ill on Monday and received medical treatment to the time of his death.  

Kinkel has been suffering from colic on and off for almost 10 years. Last year, the colic attacks became more frequent with the worst episode being about 3 attacks in a week. However, these did not last long - at most 5 minutes. The last colic attack was sometime in June this year, and since then he hadn’t fully recovered. 

The Zoo managed his condition through veterinary care and by managing his diet. During the early days, caretakers increased the frequency of his food offerings to two servings a day – they also increased the fibre component of the diet and limited the amount of fruits and highly fermentable foods and only offered him oranges when he was having colic to increase bowel movements.  The Zoo has diet sheets for each animal, which are reviewed on a regular basis especially in cases where animals have digestive problems. 

The Zoo is still conducting a post mortem to determine the cause of death. The results may be available by the end of the week depending on the cause, or may only be known after laboratory tests are done in a week or two. 

Kinkel shared an enclosure with a female elephant, Lammie, who turned 39 in August this year. She has not taken the situation very well, as elephants are very social animals. On Monday, she was seen trying to help Kinkel get up. She refused to eat on Tuesday and Alice, her Zoo keeper suspects that she was aware that something was wrong. Elephants are known to grieve. 

We know that she trumpets whenever she is happy. We are not sure how she will express her emotions in this situation. An animal behaviorist will monitor and work closely with Lammie to assist her transition during this difficult time as elephants have good memories. The Zoo will be communicating its plans in the near future with regards to its Acquisition Management Plan. 

Staff that looked after Kinkel and in the section will also receive counselling as they are emotional about this sudden loss. 

Kinkel was very special to the Zoo and was highly liked by visitors. His enclosure is one of the most visited in the Zoo.

Issued on behalf of Cllr Nonhlanhla Sifumba

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development - City of Joburg

For media queries, please contact: 
Louise Gordon
EM: Business Development 
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo
Tel: 011 712-6815
Cell: 076 950 5149


Karabo Tledima
Stakeholder Manager: MMC for Community Development, Cllr Nonhlanhla Sifumba
Tel: 011 407 7208
Cell: 061 794 3819