Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo
SAN DIEGO (KGUN9-TV) - Reid Park Zoo has announced the death of "Connie", the Asian elephant, at the San Diego Zoo.
Mike Graham with the City of Tucson tells KGUN9 that Connie was transferred from Tucson along with her long-time companion "Shaba" to San Diego's Elephant Odyssey in February of this year.
The Elephant Care Center they were taken to was specifically designed to care for aging and ill pachyderms. Since opening in 2009, the Center has been able to contribute tremendously to the care of the elephants living there.
Staff had worked with Connie over the past few weeks to manage health concerns. Connie has recurrent urinary and reproductive tract infections.
The decision to euthanize Connie was made this morning after extensive discussion among the San Diego veterinarians and animal care staff.
The decision was made because it became evident that Connie's quality of life had significantly diminished and she would no longer be able to sustain herself.
Reid Park Zoo staff appreciates the efforts made by the team at San Diego. 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito interviewed chief veterinarian Dr. Alexis Moreno.
"It's an emotinally exhausting decision and it didn't come easy to us," she said. "We eat sleep and breathe these animals 24/7, so when we lose them it's exhausting and we take it to heart."
But Dr. Moreno says as hard as the news hurt, those who knew Connie the best knew this was coming.
"Things were touch and go for quite some time," she said.
9OYS called the San Diego Zoo to get a clearer picture of what ailed the aging elephant.
"We found some tumors in her reproductive areas that shouldn't have been there," San Diego Zoo spokeswoman Yadira Galindo said. "It was just one thing after another that impacted her ability to sustain herself."
The San Diego Zoo tells 9OYS Connie wasn't eating, and barely drinking, consuming just 1.5 gallons of water a day. A healthy elephant needs 75 gallons a day.
"We were hoping she'd be with us for a while, unfortunately it didn't work out," Galindo said.
Dr. Moreno says the San Diego Zoo offered Connie the best care in the world, but knowing that won't make the loss any easier to take.
"They were loved, respected, and we were humbled to work with them," Moreno said. "The community was humbled to have them a part of their lives."
Results of the necropsy are pending.
Mayor Rothschild released the following statement regarding the passing of Connie the elephant this morning:
"I was saddened to learn of Connie's passing today, both for Connie and for Shaba, her companion," said Mayor Rothschild. "I am confident that Connie received the best of care at San Diego's geriatric elephant facility. We knew this day would come. Connie was elderly, and that was why this facility was chosen. It is sad that it has come so soon."