A female Asian elephant died Friday at the St. Louis Zoo, shortly after a small dog got loose and ran toward her herd.
The elephant, named Rani, died at the age of 27 from a suspected heart attack. The zoo announced her tragic death on Tuesday.
‘We are absolutely devastated. We ask for the community’s thoughts and support during this difficult time,” zoo director Michael Macek said in a statement. “Our team of professional zookeepers did everything they could, but we were unable to save Rani.”
Elephant keepers spotted an unleashed small dog running near the Elephant Barn on Friday afternoon and tried to catch it, but a nearby elephant saw the pup and became nervous.
That elephant was moved to the shed where Rani was eating, completely unaware of the situation.
Rani, an Asian elephant, died on Friday at the age of 27. She appeared to have had a heart attack and pathologists discovered she had pre-existing heart problems. Just before she died, a stray dog ran around her flock, but it is not known if that caused her death
Rani came to the St. Louis Zoo in July 2001 when she was just five years old. She arrived with her mother, Ellie, who at 52 is still alive and living at the zoo
Rani was pregnant in 2019 (photo). She was known for her loud squeaking sounds that her daughter Jade liked to imitate
Soon after, members of the care team recalled that Rani “became agitated in response to the sounds of the herd. They observed Rani circling and singing within a very short period of time before collapsing,” the zoo release said.
Although the team tried to revive Rani, they were unsuccessful. The results of the necropsy, an animal autopsy, revealed pre-existing changes in her heart.
Further tests need to be carried out by zoo pathologists as they do not know if these previous problems caused her death.
Current and former members of the Elephant Care Team came to Rani’s side after her death to spend some time with her.
The other elephants in the stable calmed down and also had time for Rani.
Rani came to the St. Louis Zoo in July 2001 when she was just five years old. She arrived with her mother, Ellie, who at 52 is still alive and living at the zoo.
Rani left behind a 16-year-old daughter, Jade, who loved to imitate her mother’s unique squeaking sounds, said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, manager of the zoo’s River’s Edge section.
“Rani was a special member of this elephant family,” Pilgram-Kloppe said.
She also enjoyed playing with her two sisters at the zoo.
It is unclear how the dog entered the zoo, as service animals are allowed with specific restrictions, but pets are not.
The dog has been turned over to a shelter, the zoo said.
At the time the dog ran through the Elephant Shed, Rani was inside eating her dinner. She did not see the dog, but responded to the surprising sounds of her flock, just as they responded to the small dog running around
Asian elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild and 80 years in captivity. There are currently 40,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants left on the planet, as they are considered extinct.
The St. Louis Zoo said its move was recommended by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan.
The program focuses on managing the Asian elephant population in North America to maximize their health and genetic diversity.
There are currently 40,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants left on the planet, as they are classified as extinct. They come from China, India, Malaysia and many other countries.
The average lifespan of Asian elephants is about 70 years, and in captivity they can live up to 80 years. Discover wild animals.
Asian elephants are considered the largest land mammal in the world.