by Max Brantley
Fox 16 reports that Mary, the Little Rock Zoo's 60-year-old elephant, has been diagnosed with inoperable stomach cancer.
Following is the Zoo release:
The Little Rock Zoo is sad to announce that its beloved elephant, Mary, has been diagnosed with inoperable tumors in her abdominal area.
Elephant care expert, Dr. Dennis Schmitt of Missouri State University, was called to Little Rock after Mary was showing signs of lethargy. Dr. Schmitt confirmed the terminal diagnosis.
Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Marilynn Baeyens, says that tests also confirm the presence of carcinoma cells and added that the tumors are likely the result of Mary’s old age.
Baeyens describes Mary’s condition as “touch and go.” Mary will be treated with medicine to ease discomfort and will be closely monitored by Zoo staff. She is still eating, playing in the mud and with enrichment items, and can be seen on exhibit.
Even though Mary is 60-years-old and has already outlived many of her captive counterparts, her diagnosis is still difficult news for Zoo staff. Elephant keepers have a strong bond with their elephants and Mary’s keepers are no different.
Mary is an important member of the Zoo family, and since her arrival in 2001 has become important to all Arkansans.
“When Zoo guests ask about our elephants they ask for Mary and Ellen by name. Arkansans have bonded with Mary and we have no doubt that there is deep concern for her health and well being,” said Zoo Director Mike Blakely.
Mary has lived at the Little Rock Zoo since 2001 when she was acquired by the Zoo from the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Mary was born in Myanmar and was one of Gunter Gebel-Williams’ original elephants performing in the Circus Williams-Althoff in Germany for several years until she was acquired by Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1968. Mary was a part of the Ringling Bros. circus for several years before retiring to the Ringling Bros. conservation center. Ringling then generously donated Mary to the Zoo.