Tina the elephant dies at Belfast Zoo

image copyrightBelfast Zoo
image captionTina the elephant arrived at Belfast zoo in 1966 and was one of the oldest elephants in captivity

An elephant which had been at Belfast Zoo for more than 50 years has died.

Tina, an Asian elephant, was 54 and one of the oldest elephants in captivity.

She had arthritis as well as a history of problems with her back legs, and collapsed in the early hours of Sunday.

Despite the best efforts of zoo staff and fire officials with heavy-lifting equipment, staff and a vet took the "very difficult decision" to put her down.

'Stealing umbrellas and handbags'

Tina had arrived at the zoo in 1966, having been bought from a pet shop in Birmingham and shipped across to Northern Ireland at a cost of £20.

Alyn Cairns, the zoo's manager, said he and the zoo's staff were extremely saddened by the death of the much-loved elephant.

"She was so full of personality," Mr Cairns told the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"She was sensitive and intelligent but there was also a cheeky and naughty side to her," he said.

Before the zoo's elephant enclosure was modernised in the 1970s, Tina was renowned for stealing handbags and umbrellas from visitors.

While the zoo will remain open as normal on Monday, the elephant house will be closed until further notice.

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