TORONTO, Dec. 1 (UPI) — Staff at the Toronto Zoo Tuesday were mourning the death of its African elephant herd’s 41-year-old matriarch, the fourth elephant death there in four years.
Eric Cole, supervisor of the zoo’s African Savanna section, said the female named Tara was found on her side at 7 a.m. Monday and staff were unable to get her back on her feet, the Toronto Sun reported. She died four hours later, he said.
Elephants can’t remain lying on their sides for long as their own weight starts crushing their organs. Tara weighed 8,500 pounds, Cole said.
One of the zoo’s original elephants since its opening in 1974, Tara was the leader of the three remaining females, the Toronto Star said.
“She had not exhibited any recent signs of ill health,” Cole said. “She loved to have her face rubbed and would lower her head for (it.)”
Tara’s body was left in place for several hours as the three other elephants circled around it and probed it with their trunks, the Star said.
A necropsy is planned in coming days, Cole said.
The zoo also lost 39-year-old elephant Tessa in June, after she was pushed over in a rush to food and couldn’t get back up.
Another elephant was found dead in her pen last year and a fourth was euthanized in 2006 because of severe arthritis, the Globe and Mail said.
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