Mary, the Little Rock Zoo's 60-year-old elephant, died today. She was euthanized because of a sharp decline in her condition.
The Zoo had announced recently that she had untreatable cancer. Zoo spokesperson Susan Altrui said Mary was still on her feet at the time of her death, but had become lethargic, with her head lowered, her trunk hanging limp, and no interest in going outside.
Zoo employees are spending extra time with Ellen, the zoo's other elephant, to console her after loss of her companion. Altrui said an intensive search is underway for another elephant.
Elephants are smart, and particularly prone to grief — including cases where elephants have stopped eating and starved themselves to death in zoos when their companion died. Here's a video of African elephants grieving over their dead.
LITTLE ROCK (May 6, 2011) — The long-lived life of Little Rock Zoo’s Mary the elephant ended peacefully Thursday, May 5, 2011, when the 60-year-old pachyderm was euthanized after her health took a sharp decline in the last few days.
During the procedure, Mary was surrounded by the loving Zoo staff that cared for her including several staff members who worked with her for the more than 10 years she lived at the Zoo.
Mary had been diagnosed with terminal tumors in her abdominal area on April 14, 2011 and was being treated with medicine to ease any discomfort and to prevent infection. Mary’s health took a turn for the worse this week and the decision to euthanize her was made carefully by Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Baeyens and Zoo Director Mike Blakely.
After her passing, Mary’s companion, Ellen, an elephant living at the Little Rock Zoo since 1954, was then allowed into the barn to say goodbye to Mary. Zoo staff are staying with Ellen around the clock to provide her with extra attention and care during this time.
The Zoo is continuing to work with the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP) to acquire an additional elephant to be a companion for Ellen as soon as possible.
Flowers and other memorials from members of the public will be placed at the elephant exhibit in memory of Mary and donations can be made to the International Elephant Foundation, a non-profit supporting elephant conservation. Donations in honor of Mary can be made at www.elephantconservation.org or by check at IEF, P.O. Box 366, Azle, TX 76098.
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.