Saint Louis, MO – On the afternoon of Friday, October 13, a 27-year-old Asian elephant named Rani passed away unexpectedly at the Saint Louis Zoo. According to a release from the zoo, Rani became agitated after hearing “vocalizations” from the herd, who had encountered a small, off-leash dog in the elephant area.
The news release explains the unusual situation:
At 3:39 p.m. on Friday, October 13, a small, unleashed dog was seen running in a non-public area near the Elephant Barn. While the Elephant Care team was working to contain the dog, its presence caused the elephant that was outside to become agitated. The Elephant Care team worked quickly to move the elephant indoors away from the disturbance.
The zoo said that Rani never saw or encountered the dog herself, but she did become agitated after hearing “the vocalizations from the herd.” The Elephant Care team saw Rani circle and vocalize, all within a very brief period, before collapsing.
Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Zoological Manager of River’s Edge said:
“Rani was a special member of this elephant family group. She loved playing with her sisters Maliha and Priya. While growing up here in St. Louis, she got to learn from her own mom, Ellie, on how to be an amazing mother herself. She had a great relationship with her animal care team and all of the other elephants. When socializing with her family she made a unique squeaking noise that her daughter Jade also mimics.”
Michael Macek, Saint Louis Zoo Director, said:
“We are absolutely devastated. We ask for the community’s thoughts and support during this difficult time. Our team of professional animal care experts did everything possible, but we couldn’t save Rani.”
A necropsy of Rani’s body revealed “some preexisting changes in her heart.” It is unclear how significant these changes are.
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