Published: 16:57, 05 September 2019
| Updated: 17:00, 05 September 2019
A 50-year-old elephant known as "the queen mother" by her keepers has died.
Masa had arrived at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Canterbury from Africa, where records of her age and birthplace were unclear, in 1972.
Since then, she gave birth to Jama and Mchumba, and later became a grandmother.
However, the ageing animal was found struggling to walk yesterday morning.
Following a thorough assessment, a team of vets and Masa's dedicated keepers decided to euthanise her.
A spokesman for Howletts says she remained "feisty and playful until the end".
"As matriarch, Masa was a huge personality in the herd," he added.
"Affectionately known as 'the queen mother' by her keepers, Masa was a wise leader, respected and looked up to by all at Howletts – from her family to her keepers and many of our regular visitors.
"Masa very much ran the show, and often made decisions as to how to lead the herd, whether this suited the keepers’ schedules or not.
"She was always first on the scene at elephant births, showing less experienced mothers what to do and even suckling her grandchildren for the first few days.
"Although slowing down in her old age, Masa was still able to charge at speed if any of her family called her, or if she saw some tasty branches at the other end of the enclosure."
More by this authorJack Dyson