Goodbye Dolly: Maryland Zoo Puts Down Geriatric African Elephant

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— The Maryland Zoo had to put down a female member of its African elephant herd. Dolly, who came to the Baltimore Zoo more than 30 years ago, was euthanized on Sunday.

Dolly was believed to be 38-40 years old. The median life expectancy for African elephant females is 37.9 years, according to experts with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“Dolly’s health had been in gradual decline over the past few years as she’s aged; however, we don’t believe her death is related to any one particular issue, but rather that combined illnesses took a toll on her overall health,” said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the zoo.

In the late 1970s, a private owner brought Dolly to the United States from Mozambique.  She came to the Baltimore zoo in 1982.

The zoo’s elephant herd now numbers four – females Anna and Felix, young male Samson and the adult bull Tuffy.

“Dolly spent all day Saturday outside interacting with Felix and Samson and taking naps in the sun, and there was no indication that she had any immediately grave health concerns,” said Karl Kranz, chief operating officer of the zoo.  “However on Sunday morning, she was lying down inside the barn, which was atypical for Dolly. The zoo elephant team and veterinarians were mobilized immediately. Once the team was with Dolly, it was apparent that it was time to let her go.”

Full necropsy findings, as well as laboratory test results, will not be available for several weeks.

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