San Diego Zoo euthanizes 45-year-old Asian elephant Connie
Connie, the Asian elephant transferred this year from the Tucson zoo to the San Diego Zoo with her longtime buddy, Shaba, has been euthanized after an unexpected and irreversible decline in her health, according to a senior veterinarian at the zoo.
After adapting well to the San Diego Zoo's Elephant Odyssey, Connie had a "marked decrease in appetite and output," veterinarian Tracy L. Clippinger wrote in a blog on the San Diego Zoo website.
Specialists were summoned and various treatments attempted over several months without success, Clippinger wrote. The 45-year-old elephant's immune and organ systems were rapidly deteriorating.
Finally, on Thursday "we made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize her when it became apparent that Connie would be unable to sustain herself."
Connie was the center of an unusual controversy last year when officials from the San Diego Zoo and the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson began discussing an elephant swap. Initially, only Connie was to be transferred to San Diego; Shaba, a 31-year-old African elephant, was to remain in Tucson.
But patrons of the Reid Park Zoo protested that it was cruel to separate Connie and Shaba after their friendship of three decades. Animal activist Bob Barker offered $500,000 to a fund to keep the two together.
Zoo officials reconsidered their plan, and in February, Connie and Shaba arrived at the San Diego Zoo.
After Connie was euthanized, Shaba touched her with her trunk before walking away and then walking back several times as if for a final goodbye, zoo officials said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Connie, right, and Shaba after their transfer to the San Diego Zoo from Tucson. Credit: San Diego Zoo