Tribute to Tricia
The City has a long association with Perth Zoo and the recent passing of one of our most loved residents, Tricia the 65-year-old Asian elephant, prompted our Local History Librarian to look back on her time in our community and her evolution from zoo attraction to conservation hero.
"Tricia was born before the opening of the Narrows Bridge. Trams still ran along Barrack Street and the not-yet City of South Perth was managed entirely from the three-room building on Mill Point Road now known as Heritage House.
"When Tricia arrived at the Zoo in 1963, it was a very different institution to today. She was kept in a stark concrete enclosure, focused on containment rather than enrichment or emulation of a natural environment.
"The practice of routinely riding on the elephants had only ended a few years early with the death of the veteran elephant Rani.
"Within one elephant lifetime, the Perth Zoo and Perth itself have become very different.
"In the 1980s, a more naturalistic elephant enclosure was introduced and Tricia became the matriarch of a growing herd.
"Her walks around the Zoo became attractions in themselves, and people travelled to marvel at the elephant as a creature rather than a sideshow.
"Meanwhile, the roar of the freeway replaced the roar of the lions as South Perth’s ambient noise. A bustling city enveloped the Zoo’s quiet corner of suburbia.
"Tricia was now seen as an individual figure, one so widely known and beloved that she became the namesake of our third cross-river ferry.
"The passing of Tricia is a time to reflect on how much our attitudes, our city and ourselves have changed since her arrival and how her presence connects so many people through five decades of memories."
– Anthony Styan, City of South Perth Local History Librarian
- In her memory, Perth Zoo has established the Tricia Tribute to Conservation Fund to contribute towards an Elephant Ranger Guard Post in Tricia's name for Wildlife Protection Units watching over elephants in Sumatra. Your support will ensure Tricia's legacy lives on. Visit perthzoo.wa.gov.au/donate to learn more or donate.
- Phone 9474 0777
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