Tricia has been a much loved since her arrival from Vietnam via Singapore in 1963 as a young six year old.
Senior elephant keeper, Kirsty Carey, said: “Everyone has a story about Tricia. Generations of West Australians have grown up alongside her. From the moment she was offloaded at the Fremantle Wharf all those decades ago she captured hearts.”
“I’ve cared for Tricia for 11 years and I am constantly amazed by the affect she has on people. She regularly moves people to tears. We particularly see this when we host up-close elephant experiences and during our special Breakfast with the Elephant series. ”
“I know I have the best job in the world, caring for Perth’s jumbo celebrity in her twilight years.”
However the story of Tricia is also the story of the evolution of society and the evolution of zoos.
“At 60 years of age, Tricia has lived through an era when zoos were a random collection of animals kept for human enjoyment,” said Kirsty. “Many of our older visitors recall Tricia living in a concrete enclosure and she was named after the 1962 Miss Australia, reflective of a time when beauty pageants were in vogue.”
Yet with each passing year and new set of teeth (elephants have six sets in their lives), a lot has changed.
“Today Tricia has six specialised zoo keepers dedicated to her care and lives in a large Asian-themed home with a swimming pool, shady trees, a mud wallow, scratching poles, heated barn, comfortable sand floors and sleeping mounds. Every day we aim to make her day better than the one before.”
“Tricia also enjoys daily walks around the Zoo, therapeutic massages and even elephant yoga to assist with age related aches and pains. Funds from her artwork, which she loves creating, helps protect wild elephants in Sumatra.”
“It’s been an extraordinary life,” said Kirsty. “It’s true that elephants never forget, so we’re asking everyone to visit us this weekend and help give Tricia a birthday ele-bration to remember.”
This Saturday and Sunday Perth Zoo’s festivities will include special elephant keeper talks, elephant themed games, a pop-up water slide, performers, stage shows, face painting and visitors can leave a message for Tricia on a gigantic birthday card.
Tricia will also receive a giant 60th birthday cake made of bran and fruit at midday and by following the birthday trail, Zoo visitors can go into the draw to win their very own birthday party at the Zoo.
- Tricia arrived at Perth Zoo in January 1963 from Ho Chi Minh City via Singapore;
- She was named after Tricia Resche, Miss Australia 1962;
- In 1986 Tricia moved to a new exhibit which included a new barn and swimming pool. Since then the elephant exhibit space has trebled in size as a result of exhibit upgrades in 2004 and 2005;
- In 1992 Tricia was joined by three young elephants, gifts from the Malaysian Government;
- Tricia is one of three elephants cared for by Perth Zoo. She lives with female Permai and bull elephant Putra Mas lives in a separate exhibit reflecting the natural solitary nature of wild male elephants;
- Funds from Tricia’s artwork and elephant experiences help protect the critically endangered Sumatran Elephants in the wild;
- Tricia is one of the oldest Asian Elephants to be cared for by a zoo in Australia;
- In recent years she has experienced age related aches and begun to slow down as she progresses through her twilight years;
- The longest lived elephant in Australasia was 63 years old;
- Asian Elephants are endangered with as few as 34,000 individuals remaining due top habitat loss and poaching;
- Perth Zoo helps fund wildlife protection, anti-poaching patrols and human / elephant conflict mitigation programs in Sumatra.