The Tulsa Zoo just announced that Gunda, their 67-year-old Asian elephant, passed away. She entered hospice care last week after declining due to her age.
Zoo personnel said she passed away Monday in her exhibit with her caregivers.
Gunda was the Zoo's first elephant. She came to Tulsa in 1954.
“We know an untold number of people have been able to connect with her,” says Vice President of Animal Conservation and Science Joe Barkowski.
“We are very proud of our current and past animal care and animal health teams for the way they have looked after Gunda these many, many years.”
Veterinary staff made the decision to euthanize Gunda, a news release states. She had several geriatric-related conditions that had been treated for some time, but zoo staff said they could no longer hold off "the effects of time."
“This is never an easy decision, but we owed it to Gunda to make her comfortable” says Director of Animal Health Kay Backues, DVM.
After Gunda died, staff brought in her long-time herd mate Sooky one last time. The Zoo said field research shows elephants spend time with their deceased family members, so staff wanted to give Sooky that opportunity.
The Zoo now has two elephants, Sooky and a male named Sneezy. They are evaluating their options for increasing the herd.