Elephant euthanized at San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Connie, the Asian elephant transferred this year from the Tucson zoo to the San Diego Zoo with her longtime buddy, Shaba, has been euthanized after an irreversible decline in her health, a zoo veterinarian said.

After adapting well to the San Diego Zoo’s Elephant Odyssey, Connie, 45, had a “marked decrease in appetite and output,” veterinarian Tracy Clippinger wrote.

Specialists were summoned and various treatments attempted over several months without success, Clippinger wrote. The elephant’s immune and organ systems were rapidly deteriorating.

Finally, on Thursday “we made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize her when it became apparent that Connie would be unable to sustain herself.”

After Connie was euthanized, Shaba touched her with her trunk before walking away and then walking back several times as if for a final goodbye, zoo officials said.

Connie was the center of an unusual controversy last year when officials from the San Diego Zoo and the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson began discussing an elephant swap. Initially, only Connie was to be transferred to San Diego; Shaba, a 31-year-old African elephant, was to remain in Tucson.

But patrons of the Reid Park Zoo protested that it was cruel to separate Connie and Shaba after their friendship of three decades. Animal activist Bob Barker offered $500,000 to a fund to keep the two together.

Zoo officials reconsidered their plan, and in February, Connie and Shaba arrived at the San Diego Zoo.

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