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Ailing, 53-year-old elephant euthanized at L.A. Zoo

By Associated Press
Published: January 12, 2024, 5:48am

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 53-year-old Asian elephant has been euthanized at the Los Angeles Zoo after she was unable to stand up, the zoo announced last week.

Shaunzi, one of two female elephants at the zoo, was discovered unable to stand after she went down in the yard of her exhibit space.

“Animal care staff and zoo veterinarians responded quickly and worked through the night to help Shaunzi up. Despite the use of all resources and personnel available, the extraordinary efforts were ultimately unsuccessful,” a zoo statement said.

A “heartbreaking” decision was made to sedate and euthanize the animal, the statement said.

It wasn’t clear why the elephant couldn’t stand up, and a necropsy was planned, zoo spokesman Carl Myers said.

Born in Thailand, Shaunzi spent her youth in a circus, came to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 1983 and was sent to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2017.

The median life expectancy of female Asian elephants in human care has been estimated by zoos, researchers and conservation groups as around 40 to 50 years. Elephants in the wild can live decades longer.

Asian elephants are considered endangered, and only about 40,000 of them remain in the wild. They are threatened by destruction of their habitat and by poachers who kill them for their tusks.