By Joe Veyera
The Woodland Park Zoo has announced the passing of its 45-year old African elephant Watoto, who was humanely euthanized late Friday morning after zoo keepers arrived to find her unable to stand on her own.
According to the zoo’s press release, when keepers arrived on Friday, Watoto was lying down in the elephant yard and unable to move to an upright position — unusual behavior for her. The zoo’s animal health staff and elephant keepers attempted to lift Watoto to her feet first with the support of cloth straps, and later with the careful assistance of heavy machinery.
According to the release, the animal health staff assessed the elephant’s well being, and it was apparent Watoto’s health was in quick decline and she would likely become more uncomfortable as hours passed, with the staff making the decision to euthanize her.
“This is a very difficult time for our zoo family as we mourn the loss of Watoto, a beloved animal and dear friend to our staff and volunteers, members and community,” said Bruce Bohmke, Woodland Park Zoo’s Chief Operations Officer, in the release. “Watoto has lived a long, healthful life at Woodland Park Zoo under the care of dedicated keepers and staff. We will all miss her greatly.”
The only African elephant at the zoo, Watoto was born in Kenya between 1969 and 1970, and joined the zoo’s elephant herd in 1971 as an orphan from the wild.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo)