Sad news for elephant lovers as the Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma announced that Gunda, their 67-year-old Asian elephant, has passed away.
Her health has been deteriorating over recent weeks, and the veterinary staff decided to euthanize the animal.
Gunda entered hospice care last week before her eventual death. She passed in her exhibit alongside her longtime caregivers.
After arriving at the Tulsa Zoo in 1954, Gunda brought joy to generations of animal lovers.
She was the first elephant in the zoo’s history.
Her arrival was not without its hurdles. The boat carrying Gunda broke down in Bermuda.
While there, Gunda made a splash (no pun intended) with the local population. Kids mobbed the boat to catch a glimpse of an elephant for the first time.
Local media called Gunda “the most popular tourist of the year.” She even inspired a children’s book called “Gunda’s Bermuda Holiday.”
“We know an untold number of people have been able to connect with her,” Vice President of Animal Conservation and Science Joe Barkowski.
“We are very proud of our current and past animal care and animal health teams for the way they have looked after Gunda these many, many years.”
After her passing, the staff of the zoo let Sooky in to see her herd mate for the last time.
Elephants typically spend time with deceased loved ones in the wild, so the staff thought it was only fitting to give her a chance to say goodbye.
“This is never an easy decision,” Director of Animal Health Kay Backues said. “But we owed it to Gunda to make her comfortable.
“She was attended to by her human caretakers who had taken care of her for many years,” Backues continued.
“All of us who have cared for Gunda were present to make her passing a safe and gentle process.”
According to the zoo’s release about Gunda’s death, they’re working on adding another elephant to their family. As of now, they still have their male Sneezy and their female Sooky.
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