Elephant killed in zoo enclosure by another bull elephant who attacked him while he slept

The zoo was closed when the attack happened in the early morning hours.

June 24, 2021, 8:17 AM

LONDON -- A young elephant has been killed after it sustained injuries in an attack by another elephant while it slept in a zoo enclosure.

The tragic incident occurred on Friday, June 18, at the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxhall, near Bristol on England’s West Coast, when a bull elephant went into the area where 12-year-old elephant, M’Changa, was sleeping and launched a brutal attack on the sleeping animal that left him with fatal injuries, according to a statement published by Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.

The zoo was not yet open to the public when the attack happened and the zoo’s other two bull elephants who were not involved in the incident, Shaka and Janu, were unharmed.

The zoo said that the bull elephant group have 24-hour access to the outside and inside areas of their enclosure and that they are typically very social animals that need the option of being together when they want to be.

“Our dedicated team of Elephant keepers are understandably distraught over this recent event, and we are doing all that we can to support them during this difficult time,” said Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm. “A full review is now in progress, including an investigation into events surrounding the incident and looking at future plans to establish the best way forward for the elephant programme at Noah’s Ark.”

M’Changa had been at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm since 2014 after arriving from Boras Zoo in Sweden and the zoo said that he had become an integral part of the male bachelor group of elephants until his untimely death. All three elephants had lived successfully together for three years up until that point, according to the zoo.

M'Changa, a 12-year-old bull elephant who lived at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall, England, was killed in an attack launched by another bull elephant in the early morning hours of June 18, 2021.
Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

“Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has one of the largest elephant facilities in the UK and Europe,” said a senior spokesperson from BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums). “The bachelor elephant group at Noah’s Ark plays a key supporting role serving wider African Elephant conservation efforts as an important part of the European Endangered Species Programme. Our thoughts are with the dedicated elephant care staff at Noah’s Ark.”

The zoo says the elephants play a critical role in breeding and growing the elephant population since they can be transferred to other facilities as breeding bulls to contribute to those breeding programs.

“Male elephants will naturally leave their family herd in adolescence and will often then group together with other solitary males, forming a bachelor group,” Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm said in their statement announcing M’Changa’s death. “These bachelor groupings are important for young bulls to learn social skills and new behaviours from the older males. There will typically be one large dominant bull who will guide the younger bulls, sort out any disputes amongst the group and can often show displays of dominance. Bull elephants are large and powerful animals. Their behaviour in the wild and in zoos, can often typically be active, boisterous and can at times be aggressive.”

The zoo said that a full review into the incident is now in progress, including an investigation into the events surrounding the attack, and that Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm will be evaluating their plans about how they will go forward with the elephant program at the zoo.