Sunita, 60, euthanized at Wild Animal Park
Sad news from the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park.
Animal trainers this morning euthanized Sunita, the park's oldest elephant. The 60-year-old Asian female had been battling a series of conditions linked to old-age, including a raging infection.
Sunita had been losing weight and was unable to feed herself after breaking a tooth. Round-the-clock care was unable to reverse her decline, officials said.
Sunita came to the zoo in 1974. Her death leaves the Wild Animal Park with four Asian elephants and 11 African elephants.
Elephants are social creatures and go into a kind of mourning when one of their number dies. Other elephants were given a chance to view Sunita in her final hours to help lessen the shock of her disappearance, zoo officials said.
A necropsy is planned to determine the cause of death, which could help in determining care for other elephants, particularly aged ones.
"She was an important part of our family," said a Wild Animal Park spokesman. "Everyone is very upset."
--Tony Perry, San Diego.
Photo: Sunita. Credit: San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park