Former zoo elephant euthanized in California

elifantSACRAMENTO, Calif.: A Northern California sanctuary for circus and zoo animals has euthanized a 55-year-old elephant named Annie.

The Sacramento Bee reported on the last days of the Indian elephant, which had come to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) refuge in Calaveras County nearly 20 years ago.

Captured in her native India at the age of 1, Annie spent most of her life chained in U.S. zoos. Outcry over videos showing keepers at the Milwaukee County Zoo beating her in 1994 spurred her transfer to the more than 2,000-acre elephant refuge in Calaveras County.

Exotic-animal veterinarian Jackie Gai told the Sacramento Bee that Annie suffered from arthritis and foot diseases, ailments common in captive elephants. The elephant also tested positive for tuberculosis in 2012, after her arrival.
This autumn, Gai said, Annie stopped wanting to leave the barn at the refuge for her usual dips in a lake and walks on the hills.

Refuge officials decided to use injections to put her down on the afternoon of Nov. 18.

“I fed her treats all day,” said Ed Stewart, a co-founder of the refuge. “She got boxes of Frosted Flakes, the best hay, a little alfalfa. We spent the whole day with her, getting ready.”

PAWS, which houses 10 African and Asian elephants and a number of smaller animals, was started by Stewart and by a former Hollywood animal trainer. The refuge is a critic of animal exhibits at both zoos and circuses, which in turn fault the refuge for opposing the captive breeding of endangered elephants.

A 2008 study by British and Canadian biologists concluded female elephants in the wild live twice as long as their counterparts in zoos, on average. Global demand for ivory, however, has driven poaching of elephants to “critically high levels” in Africa in particular, a United Nations report said earlier this month. -AP