‘Gentle giant’ Mary the elephant euthanised by zoo keepers2 min read
Heartbroken zoo keepers were forced to make the tragic decision to put down a legendary elephant called Mary. The 59-year-old geriatric elephant had been struggling with age-related joint deficiencies that had started to significantly impact her quality of life. Zoo staff described her in a statement as a “uniquely dominant” but “gentle” pachyderm.
Mary had been under the close care of San Diego Zoo’s health and care specialists for some time.
She was receiving treatments such as hydrotherapy and physical therapy to alleviate her joint ailments.
However, despite their best efforts, Mary’s mobility had declined to the point where the decision to euthanise her was deemed necessary.
The elephant was much loved at the San Diego Zoo, having lived at the facility’s Elephant Odyssey habitat since 2009.
Before that, Mary had resided at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for nearly 30 years and was first brought into closure in 1980.
“Mary’s gentle presence will be greatly missed,” the Zoo shared on its official Instagram account.
After Mary passed, her longtime companion Shaba was given the opportunity to say goodbye, the Zoo said.
It added: “Shaba will have her choice to socialize with neighbouring elephants Nipho and Sundzu.”
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The average life expectancy for a female Asian elephant is 47 years, the zoo says, making Mary’s long life a testament to the high-quality care she received at the facility.
Asian elephants are categorised as an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
Mary’s need for physical therapy and palliative care “made her a relatable presence for humans experiencing similar ailments”, the Zoo said.
San Diego Zoo frequenters shared their sadness over the loss of Mary. The Instagram user Katwoodmac said: “I’m speechless and heartbroken. She was my first friend in San Diego.
“I would drive to the zoo and read next to her and befriended a volunteer named Lenny.
“Over the summer, he and I would sit on the same bench on Friday mornings and talk about his family and how beautiful Mary was.
“I sat on the same bench in awe of her even on the loneliest of days. She felt like a friend. She’s so loved and missed”
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