For Release: January 25, 2006
Peper Long (202) 633-3082
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Asian Elephant Euthanized
Toni, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, was euthanized Wednesday morning at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, following a dramatic decline in her physical condition and quality of life.
Toni had a long history of arthritis, resulting from a leg injury she received before arriving at the National Zoo in 1989. The condition worsened last summer and then improved in the following months, as Toni responded well to medical treatment for her arthritis, which included ibuprofen and Cosequin, a glucosamine-based joint supplement.
However, despite her strong appetite and normal disposition, Toni continued to lose weight and muscle mass. Zoo staff investigated all available diagnostic and treatment protocols to identify and treat possible contributing factors. However, despite their best efforts and extraordinary care, Toni’s condition and quality of life continued to decline.
Zoo staff made the difficult decision to euthanize based on the elephant’s rapid decline. A final pathology report may not be complete for many months. “As director of the National Zoo, I must ensure that our animals receive the highest quality care. I can say with confidence that Toni, a beloved member of our family, received the highest standards of care, both from the professional and careful attention of our keepers and from the expert medicine practiced by our veterinary staff,” said John Berry, National Zoo director.
The Elephant House will be closed to the public Jan.
25 through Jan. 29; it will reopen on Monday, Jan. 30.
Visitors may be able to view the National Zoo’s
three elephants in their outdoor yards during that time.
Toni Elephant’s History
Elephants at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Kandula, a male, was born on Nov. 25, 2001. He weighed 325 pounds at birth and now weighs more than 3,500 pounds. Kandula means “strength and virtue” in Sinhalese, a language of Sri Lanka. His mother is Shanthi, who was artificially inseminated in February 2000.
Shanthi, a female, was born in approximately 1975. Shanthi came from Sri Lanka, where she was hand-reared at the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage. The children of Sri Lanka gave her to the National Zoo in 1976 as a gift. Shanthi means “peace” in Sinhalese. It also is translated to mean “blessing.” Shanthi weighs more than 9,000 pounds, and is the largest elephant in the National Zoo’s herd. Kandula is Shanthi’s second calf; her first, a female born in 1993 died two years later of what is now known as elephant herpes virus.
Ambika, a female, was born in approximately 1948 and weighs nearly 8,000 pounds. She was captured in the Indian forest when she was about 8 years old and placed in a logging camp. In 1961, the children of India gave Ambika to the National Zoo. She is one of the five oldest Asian captive elephants in North America.
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