Tina, mischievous elephant of Irish Zoo, dies at age 54
Belfast Zoo's best-known resident, Tina the elephant, has died.
Tina arrived at Belfast Zoo in 1966 from Tyseley Pet Store in Birmingham, with a shipping cost of £20.
She became notorious for stealing - and sometimes eating - visitors' items, including handbags, coats, gloves and cameras. She often stole visitors' umbrellas, handbags and property.
Over more than 50 years in the zoo, she won the hearts of thousands of Ulster children.
In a statement yesterday the zoo revealed that Tina collapsed early yesterday morning.
"Belfast Zoo staff are extremely saddened by the death of much-loved Asian elephant, Tina.
"At age 54, Tina was one of the oldest elephants living in the zoo, arriving in 1966.
"Tina collapsed in the early hours of Sunday morning and the very difficult decision was made by zoo staff and veterinary staff to put her to sleep.
"Belfast Zoo will remain open as normal. However, the elephant house will be closed until further notice."
Former Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon was among the hundreds of animal lovers last night who shared their memories of Tina.
"Tina was a Belfast legend," she said. "It's very sad to hear of her passing. Everybody knew Tina.
"The zoo has changed a lot in recent years, but the one constant was Tina. I'll never forget pampering her on her 50th birthday."
The zoo's Facebook page was flooded with messages of sympathy to the zoo staff.
Margarita Lismore wrote: "So sad to hear this! Tina has been part of Belfast Zoo for all of many people's lives. RIP Tina. I hope you didn't suffer.
"My thoughts go out to her keepers - this will be heart breaking for them." Christine McDonald posted: "So sad to hear that Tina has passed away. I remember seeing her as a child and I also took my son up to see her and he loved seeing Tina all the time. RIP."