Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tara the elephant dies at Toronto Zoo

An elephant at the Toronto Zoo died this morning after zoo staff found her lying down, unable to stand up.

Tara, the 41-year-old "matriarch" of the elephant herd, had not exhibited any recent health concerns, Eric Cole, supervisor of the zoo's African Savanna, said. She was found by animal care staff shortly before 8 a.m. Monday morning, who tried in vain to lift the 8,500-pound animal back onto her feet. They were unable to hoist her back up, and she died at 11 a.m.

Tara was out in public as recently as last weekend, Cole said, and appeared to be doing well. "She was in good form, chasing the others and being her usual bossy self," he said. "She wasn't lethargic; she was eating."

The zoo will conduct a post-mortem examination with the assistance of the Ontario Veterinary College to determine Tara's exact cause of death. According to the zoo, the average lifespan of an elephant is between 40 and 45 years.

Another elephant, Tessa, died at Toronto Zoo five months ago after being pushed over by another elephant. However, Cole ruled that out as a possibility in this case, saying Tara was alone in her pen at the time.

Tara has lived at Toronto Zoo since 1974, arriving from southern Africa shortly after the zoo opened, and as many as 50 million people have visited Tara since. According to Cole, she had been "the boss" of the elephant herd for the past four years since the death of Patsy, the herd's previous matriarch.

"If there was a disagreement between other elephants, she would break it up," Cole said. "She liked to be the one in control. She'd go over and just by getting close to whoever she was going to interact with, they'd run away. Sometimes...


1 comment:

  1. I wish she had died in the free wild African jungles where she belonged.