Saying goodbye: 22-year-old Saheli passes away at Islamabad zoo

Published: May 1, 2012

ISLAMABAD: A 22-year-old elephant gifted by the Sri Lanka government to Pakistan in 1991 passed away at Marghazar Zoo in Islamabad on Tuesday.

The elephant, named Saheli, had been brought to Pakistan to be partnered with a male elephant named Kaavan when she was one-year-old.

Faiz Mohammad, the caretaker of the elephants, wiped his tears as he narrated the story of losing Saheli. “I have been taking care of her ever since she was a year old,” he said. “She was like my own child.”

Mohammad said Saheli had been injured a few days back and was in a lot of pain. He said Saheli had been limping and her movement had slowed down.

Doctors had been coming in to check and treat the elephant for the last two days.

An elephant’s life is 90 to 110 years of age, unfortunately Saheli was 22 years old and lived a short life at the zoo.


Dr Saleem Sulheri, a veterinarian at the zoo, said that the body will be buried and the fossils will be extracted for preservation at Pakistan Museum of Natural History in Shakarparian.

The display of the elephant’s skeleton would add another attraction to Islamabad, as recently a whale shark was brought here from Karachi to after it was found dead on seashore.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Lazarus
    May 1, 2012 - 8:11PM

    Its pretty disgraceful to see an animal die who is highly in risk of ending from world. An Elephant easily lives 120+ years its the mismanagement of our departments are responsible for this.


  • s shah
    May 1, 2012 - 8:15PM

    In any other country in the world there would be inquiries if an animal died in these circumstances. Here, it will be swept under the carpet like every other scandal. We are plagued with sloppiness and lack of accountability and lack of compassion and decency in every sphere. The treatment of zoo animals in Pakistan is shameful and Pakistan should be placed on a black list as far as import of zoo animals to this country is concerned. Shameful.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    May 1, 2012 - 8:19PM

    She did not died in suicide bomb blast or in target killing.

    At least the female elephant died due to natural death.


  • Faisal
    May 1, 2012 - 8:19PM

    All Zoos should be completely closed in Pakistan.


  • May 1, 2012 - 8:32PM

    ELEPHANTS DON’T LIVE IN ZOOS; THEY DIE THERE! When will zoos & their keepers face the scientific proof of this statement? RIP, poor Saheli! You deserved so much better. wild animals belong in the wild!


  • Farhan
    May 1, 2012 - 9:06PM

    May she R.I.P. Given the circumstances of Pakistan, it is always unfortunate when something or someone that brings joy and smiles to the people, passes away. Unfortunately it is all too common for Elephants in captivity as this article,, shows. Zoo’s all over the world will need to better take care of these gentle giants because they already face enormous odds in the wild due to human encroachment and the disgusting ivory trade. We humans can ill afford to deprive our future generations from experiencing the gentle majesty of an Elephant.


  • Umer
    May 1, 2012 - 9:52PM

    “Dr Saleem Sulheri, a veterinarian at the zoo, said that the body will be buried and the fossils will be extracted for preservation at Pakistan Museum of Natural History in ”
    But then it says:
    “The Capital Development Authority(CDA) has decided to stuff the dead body”
    So what is really happening!?


  • Asif
    May 1, 2012 - 10:05PM

    Where did you get the age fact from?? The longest ever an Elephant has lived is 82 years!! So how come the elephants live 90 – 110 years?!?!?

    On average they live 50 – 70 years, get your facts right before writing.


  • margaret france
    May 1, 2012 - 10:07PM

    What’s so “natural” about the death of a captive 22 year old elephant? Disgusting to be focusing on the body. How about a necropsy before we all get so giddy about the skeleton?


  • PK Expat
    May 1, 2012 - 11:06PM

    Elephants rarely pass the age of 55 or 60 … If they do these days, that is considered quite remarkable. Guys there is no need to criticize the authorities at the zoo without knowing the details. From most accounts, Saheli was extremely happy and well looked after for 22 years, which is a long time. Apparently she got injured, which is unfortunate, but that is all it was, an accident. I am also against the overall idea of zoos but sometimes they play a very important part in society by preserving some species and providing a lot of joy and education to children and animal lovers. The real problem is damaging the habitats of wild animals. That needs to be stopped.


  • Jalib
    May 2, 2012 - 12:42AM

    @PK Expat:

    Thank you for the sagacious words – I really mean it. It’s rare and refreshing to see maturity in the comments section of ET unfortunately!!


  • A. Khan
    May 2, 2012 - 1:55AM

    You don’t extract “fossils” from a dead body. Fossils are petrified bones that take hundreds of years to form. I have concern that this “doctor” was treating the elephant.


  • May 2, 2012 - 5:24AM

    It is sad that poor Seheli died at the young age of 22 but I am glad that her caretaker loved her and she was well taken care of. RIP dear Seheli. You are free now in Heaven and can roam where every you want with no pain. I hope they don’t get another one in.


  • A Umar
    May 2, 2012 - 9:53PM

    Over the years, we have had the chance to visit the Marghzar Zoo a few times and both my children have enjoyed watching Saheli. We infact visited just a couple of days back and happened to notice Saheli lying in her shed. Little did we know, it was the last time we would ever get to see her. Rest in peace Saheli. I am sure you have brought great joy to thousands of children n their parents in your short life. I am pretty sure her caretaker would have loved her n looked after her well all her life, given the limited recources in our country. The cause of her death should be investigated and all those responsible for her neglect, if any, should be brought to task.


  • May 12, 2012 - 6:21PM

    @A. Khan:
    Technically he is right. first you bury the body, then wait for a million year or so and then extract the fossils. sounds like a plan to me.


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