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Woodland Park Zoo announces passing of African elephant Watoto

Posted by Danielle Anthony-Goodwin on August 22nd, 2014

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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)

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9 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Hobo Hilton // Aug 22, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Free the ocelots!

  • 2 Profile photo of Jimmy Rustler Jimmy Rustler // Aug 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Free everything.

  • 3 Gordy // Aug 23, 2014 at 12:44 am

    It’s now time to close the WPZ Elephant exhibits once and for all. Shame.

  • 4 Hobo Hilton // Aug 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    @3 What about the ocelots?

  • 5 BHS68 // Aug 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    She never suffered through drought or famine, was attached by lions, was never in danger of having poachers shoot her full of holes from an AK-47…. She had a pretty good life and shared it with thousands (millions?) of Seattle residents and visitors. RIP Watoto

  • 6 BHS68 // Aug 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    She never suffered through drought or famine, was never attacked by lions, was never in danger of having poachers shoot her full of holes from an AK-47…. She had a pretty good life and shared it with thousands (millions?) of Seattle residents and visitors. RIP Watoto

  • 7 Frank Furter // Aug 24, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I’m glad you fixed that BSH68.
    Because it turns out Watoto was in fact attached to a lion in the mid-80’s.

    He was quite the hunk.. Sure he had his pride, but Watoto was wooed by that thick mane.

  • 8 Hobo Hilton // Aug 24, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Lion attachment is legal in Seattle I believe.

  • 9 guesty // Aug 25, 2014 at 6:15 am

    WPZ should be ashamed. yes, i’m sure the elephant just loved its time in dark rainy seattle in its small enclosure.

    but then, if we had no zoo, where could all the parents take their adorable little kids?

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