50-year-old Asian elephant dies at San Diego Zoo

Posted at 5:29 PM, Aug 23, 2016

SAN DIEGO - An Asian elephant that had been a resident at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and San Diego Zoo since 1981 passed away Tuesday after years of medical problems, San Diego Zoo officials said.

Zoo officials issued the following statement regarding the decision to euthanize Ranchipur on Tuesday:

On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, animal care staff made the difficult decision to euthanize Ranchipur, an elderly Asian elephant who had been under veterinary care for several years for a variety of geriatric ailments. Today, staff members noticed Ranchipur experiencing medical difficulties, suddenly looking weak, and leaning on a utilitree for support. Despite emergency medical assistance, he was not responsive; and in the interest of reducing his suffering, staff members made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

Part of the Elephant Odyssey habitat will remain closed to guests for the rest of the day. For security reasons Ranchipur's tusks will be removed, inventoried, and safely secured, until they can be properly disposed of.

Ranchipur celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year and was the lone male in the Zoo's elephant herd -- made up of older, non-breeding elephants, including three Asian elephant females and three African elephant females. He lived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park from 1981 to 2009, and moved to the San Diego Zoo in April 2009 when the 7.5-acre Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey multispecies habitat was built. He was easy to spot, with huge tusks approximately 6 to 6.5 feet long that weighed an estimated 100 pounds each. As a well-known member of the herd, he will be missed by staff, volunteers and guests. Please take a moment to share your condolences with those people who worked closely with Ranchipur, who especially will be feeling his loss.

The Elephant Care Center at the San Diego Zoo is a sanctuary for elephants, providing a home for geriatric elephants and elephants needing extensive medical care. Since its opening in 2009, it has provided a home for a number of elephants, including both Asian and African species.