LAHORE: She ruled the ‘kingdom’ for quarter of a century, but led a solitary life. Suzi, Lahore Zoo’s only elephant, who remained the centre of attraction for visitors from Lahore and across the globe alike, breathed her last Saturday after spending a few days with acute pain in her legs. Suzi was unable to sit during the last three days and kept standing for almost 98 hours until Saturday afternoon, when she finally sat down and breathed her last in the evening. Aged 31 years at the time of her death, the African bush elephant was brought to the Lahore Zoo in 1992 when she was six years old, just when her tusks began to grow. Since the day she set her foot in the Lahore Zoo until the day she died, Suzi never got to see a member of her own species. She was indeed the most attractive feature of the zoo; the children’s favourite. Some time after her addition to the zoo, the administration offered her to the public to ride on. However, the practice was halted in 1999 over the mammal’s health concerns. After two years, they tried to resume the activity but she was reportedly “no longer willing to carry weight”. During the next 12 years, the officials tested her ability time and again, only to succeed in 2013, when Suzi responded well to it. However, the administration was not given a green signal by the authorities concerned to resume the rides. According to the zoo administration, the female elephant had reached her “natural lifespan limit”. This statement was contrary to the fact that the average life of this endangered species in the wild is no less than 70 years, while in captivity it can live for another decade, according to Ronald Nowak, the author of Walker’s Mammals of the World (1999). Reports said that a team of doctors from the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) conducted Suzi’s autopsy at the zoo, which is a standard operating procedure for all animals and birds being kept at the facility. Zoo Director Shafqat Ali told the media that two doctors were looking after Suzi and foreign doctors had also been contacted to cure her illness. He said that Suzi would be buried at the zoo for up to five months so that the body decomposes. He said that afterwards, the remains would be exhumed to extract the bones for “exhibition” purposes. It is not clear whether the skeleton of Suzi would be kept at the UVAS or the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, but the administration has announced keeping the tusks at the zoo. Recommendation issued by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), as outlined in the accreditation standards and related policies 2016, states, “Each zoo holding elephants must have a minimum of three females (or the space to accommodate three females), two males or three elephants of mixed gender.” However, due to a shortage of funds and the unavailability of African elephants, Suzi was made to live alone throughout her life at the zoo.