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Mystery death of pygmy elephant at Sabah zoo

KOTA KINABALU: A 25-year-old male pygmy elephant that was rescued from a palm-oil plantation in the east-coast of Sabah seven years ago, died Saturday at the Sabah Zoological and Botanical Park in Lok Kawi, 25 km from here.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Masidi Manjun said he was briefed by the state Wildlife director, Laurentius Nayan Ambu, that the elephant died suddenly and had no history of illness.

“A post-mortem was conducted yesterday (Sunday) and the cause of death would be known soon,” he said.

Efforts by FMT to contact and text messages to Laurentius went unanwsered. This is the second death of a  pygmy elephant in captivity since last year when a rescued two-year-old female calf died of severe internal bleeding.

A wildlife rescue unit was unable to save the highly dehydrated pygmy elephant from a moat at an oil palm estate also in the eastern of Sabah.

The Pygmy elephant of Borneo is a sub-species of the Asian elephant. They have a more rounded appearance and are smaller than their mainland cousins.

Authorities say there are about 1,500-2,000 pygmies left on Borneo island fast losing their natural habitat to deforestation for palm-oil plantation and human encroachment.

The zoological park in Lok Kawi, better known as Sabah Zoo or Zoo Lok Kawi to locals, sits on a 280-acre land at the Penampang-Papar old road. It was officially opened to public in February 2007.

The RM23.5 million natural park was initiated by the state zoological society. It boasts of a vast collection of Borneon animals including the pygmy elephant, sumatran rhinoceros, orang utan, proboscis monkey, and tembadau as well as many species of birds.

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