The zoo where an elephant crushed a woman to death has announced it will close.
Franklin Zoo, near Auckland, said this afternoon it will shut its doors permanently in the wake of the death of zoo keeper Dr Helen Schofield.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson said it has been a difficult few months trying to find someone to take from Schofield, who had also acted as a vet and mentor at the zoo.
“Helen is irreplaceable and this is why the Trustees have now had to make the incredibly difficult decision to close Franklin Zoo.”
The future of Mila, the elephant who killed Schofield, is still uncertain.
“Helen dedicated her life to animals, and her greatest dream was for Mila to be moved to another facility where she could live out the rest of her days with other elephants.
“We will not give up on Helen's dream, and we believe that the best way to honour this is to focus resources into our goal of working towards Mila’s relocation to a facility overseas so that we can try to secure her future.”
The spokesperson said the zoo would work closely in the coming weeks with the Australasian Zoo & Aquarium Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries to find homes for its animals.
Auckland and Hamilton zoo staff will continue to assist in the day-to-day care of Mila, and preparing her for her relocation overseas.
The zoo has been in financial dire straits since Schofield died.
A recent zoo newsletter said Schofield was paid just $29,731 for her work in the last six and a half years.
"She even objected to this amount, saying she was paid too much and the funds should be left in the trust for the animals. Helen gave everything she had to the sanctuary and the care of the animals."
In June, an appeal was made to raise $1.5 million to secure Mila's future.
The zoo spokesperson said they have been pleased with their fundraising to date and will continue to raise money for Mila's care.
Donations can be made via the zoo's website www.franklinzoo.co.nz
- © Fairfax NZ News
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