CREATED Jul 19, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In the months and years leading to Connie and Shaba's departure from Tucson, animal activists fought to keep them together and asked that the pair of elephants go to a sanctuary--not a zoo. After San Diego zookeepers decided to euthanize Connie Thursday, those activists wondered if she might still be alive had zoo and city officials heeded their advice. 9 On Your Side took their concerns to those officials.
“A sanctuary could've provided her with thousands of acres to roam,” said Colleen Dugan, part of the campaign to keep the elephants together. Dugan still believes the San Diego Zoo was the wrong place for aging and ailing Connie.
“Many of the elephants that have been sent from zoos and circuses to sanctuary--their health is turned around and they live longer than they would've had they stayed in those captive-induced conditions,” Dugan said.
Dugan is sad Connie, 45, died, yet not surprised in some ways.
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked what Dugan and her fellow protesters thought of Connie’s passing.
“’What did they expect?' is what several people have said to me,” Dugan answered, referring to zookeepers. “I don't want to say ‘I told you so,’ but we kind of said this was going to happen.”
Dugan wondered if Connie would have lived longer in at sanctuary.
“I am very confident that she would not have survived at a sanctuary for any (longer) length of time,” Dr. Alexis Moreno, veterinary at Reid Park Zoo, told 9 On Your Side.
Moreno said Connie received excellent veterinary care in San Diego, letting her live the fullest life.
“I'm 100 percent satisfied with where she went and it just amazes me the level of care they were able to provide her,” Moreno said.
The San Diego Zoo stands by the care it gave Connie as well. Tucson Mayor Jonathon Rothschild also wrote in statement that Connie received "the best of care.”