Rosa - one of Colchester Zoo's biggest stars - has died.

The African elephant was put to sleep on Tuesday after specialist vets decided they could do no more for her.

She had suffered worsening health problems since the birth, in 2004, of her calf, Jambo, the second elephant to be born at the Maldon Road attraction.

A spokeswoman said the management called in national and international experts after Rosa showed signs of severe discomfort, particularly when urinating.

Investigation found that Rosa had a polyps and evidence of scarring which could affect the nerves in her pelvis and cause pain.

Director Anthony Tropeano said a keeper spent the night with his charges. And it was decided that Rosa's body should be left in situ, so Jambo and the rest of the herd could, in line with usual elephant behaviour, pay their last respects.

A post mortem examination should provide the zoo with a better understanding of her physiological and anatomical condition.

It is hoped that a memorial fund will be set up in Rosa's memory that will be used to support elephant conservation in the wild.