BALTIMORE - The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is mourning the loss of Dolly, the oldest female member of the zoo’s African elephant herd.
Zoo officials said Dolly had been a part of the zoo herd for more than 30 years before having to be euthanized on Sunday. Dolly had been in gradual decline in recent years, however zoo officials don’t believe her death is related to any one particular issue, but rather that combined illnesses took a toll on her overall health, said Dr. Ellen Bronson, senior veterinarian at the zoo.
As per normal protocol, the zoo will conduct a necropsy (animal autopsy) with zoo veterinarians along with Johns Hopkins University and Philadelphia Zoo veterinary pathologists. Full necropsy findings, as well as laboratory test results, will not be available for several weeks.
Dolly was believed to be 38 to 40 years of age, although there is no specific documentation of her birth year. In the late 1970s, Dolly was brought to the United States from Mozambique by a private owner. She came to the Zoo in 1982, where pennies raised from local Baltimore school children initially helped pay for her care.
“Everyone at the Zoo is grief stricken and none more so than the elephant team that cared for her every day,” said Karl Kranz, chief operating officer of the zoo, in a statement. “Dolly was a magnificent elephant and very distinct from the others with her exceptionally long hair.
“All of the elephants have an impact on our guests meeting them up-close-and-personal makes people appreciate elephants in a way that no other experience could. Dolly was a big part of that experience for thousands of people over the years.”
The zoo now has four elephants in its herd: females Anna and Felix, young male Samson and the adult bull Tuffy.