(BBC)–The seven-year-old elephant calf Komala–due to have flown to Armenia as a gift from Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam–died in agony after what officials at the Msyore zoo in southern India are calling a conspiracy by insiders.
Komala–the darling of one of India’s oldest zoos–was described as attractive and playful–and had been hand-picked for Armenia because of her pleasing features–officials say.
Doctors battled for hours to save her on Friday–but in vain.
"It is really unfortunate. The elephant was to fly out on October 14–but we could not get a confirmed cargo booking," said the zoo’s director Manoj Kaman." The next date fixed was October 30–but destiny had other plans."
Officials suspect she could be the latest victim of poisoning by disgruntled employees–and–perhaps–a persistent campaign to discredit the zoo for reasons unknown.
Two elephants and an endangered lion-tailed macaque died in similar circumstances in August. An official inquiry began on Monday.
It is suspected that all the deaths could be due to poisoning.
Komala had died despite tight security arrangemen’s following the deaths of the two other elephants–Ganesha and Roopa–and the lion-tailed macaque in August.
Ganesha and Roopa had acute hemorrhage enteritis and respiratory distress caused by zinc phosphide–normally used as poison for rodents.
This is not the first time animals have died mysteriously in captivity in Measure–leading some to believe there is a plot to damage the state-run zoo’s reputation–although it is not clear why anyone would want to do so.
Last year–a chimp–and two EMU’s from Australia also died under suspicious circumstances.