A 61-year-old Asian elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo was euthanized due to “declining health,” zoo officials announced Friday.
According to the zoo, staffers noticed on Sunday that the elephant named Jewel was showing signs of poor health, prompting animal-care teams to provide her with “around-the-clock” supportive care.
“Our veterinary and animal care teams collaborated and worked nonstop to provide Jewel with the highest level of care,” Dominique Keller, the zoo’s chief veterinarian and director of animal health and wellness, said in a statement. “However, in the end, we realized that her quality of life was continuing to decline despite our best efforts, and we had to make this very difficult decision to compassionately euthanize her.”
Jewel was one of four elephants at the zoo, but she was close companions with one of the other females, 57-year-old Tina. The pair had been privately owned together before they were brought to the Los Angeles Zoo in 2010.
According to the zoo, in recent years, Jewel had shown signs of bonding with the zoo’s male Asian elephant Billy and the other female, Shaunzi.
Zoo officials noted that Tina was already beginning to show signs of growing closer with Shaunzi now that Jewel is gone.
“This morning, Tina and Shaunzi were spotted eating together, socializing and touching trunks, which is new behavior for both of them,” according to the zoo.
Zoo officials attributed Jewel’s longevity “to the level of well-being zoos can provide animals in all stages of their lives.”
Elephants have been a major source of debate over the years, with many activists contending that zoos don’t have the vast landscape the animals need to roam and maintain their health.
In November, a Los Angeles City Council committee recommended that Billy, the Asian bull elephant, who was been at the zoo for more than 30 years, be moved to a sanctuary.
Zoo officials have resisted such calls, insisting the elephants receive the highest levels of care.