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Amy the African elephant euthanized at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

A photo of Amy. Courtesy: Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Amy, a 30-year-old African elephant at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, had to be euthanized Monday due to a rapid decline in her health, according to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Zoo officials say despite two years of advanced medical treatment,s Amy's health rapidly declined which originated from a ligament tear in her right elbow.

“Amy’s ligament tear led to her development of severe arthritis,” said Dr. Shannon Nodolf, chief veterinary officer at Fresno Chaffee Zoo. “Amy’s inability to use her leg due to this injury greatly impacted her mobility and well-being by leading to the progressive, painful degeneration of her other joints. Although she had been under active veterinary care, we reached a point where we were unable to stop the progression of her decline and were no longer able to manage her pain.”

The zoo says Amy came to Fresno Chaffee Zoo in May 2015, along with her daughter, Betts, from Riddle’s Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary in Quitman, Arkansas. The exact cause of Amy’s ligament tear is unknown.

“Unfortunately, we won’t be able to identify the exact cause of her torn ligament,” Nodolf said. “A few months after Amy’s arrival in Fresno, the animal care team discovered that she was reluctant to bend her right elbow. Ever since then, we have been working persistently to improve her mobility and make her as comfortable as possible.”

Zoo officials say treatments performed on Amy included nearly a dozen different medications for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, class IV laser therapy, kinesio tape therapy, IRAP (Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein) treatments, and even stem cell therapy.

“We used state-of-the-art intra-articular stem cell therapy on Amy,” Nodolf said. “This is the first time that this type of therapy has ever been attempted in elephants. We are devastated that these cutting-edge treatments were unsuccessful and that the outcome is not what we had hoped for. However, the Zoo veterinary and elephant care teams feel confident that we exhausted every option.”

Zoo veterinary and animal care teams are working with pathologists to conduct a necropsy on Amy, zoo officials say. Tissue samples and other parts of her remains will be analyzed for scientific study. These findings will allow Amy’s veterinary and animal care teams to learn more about her health and help other elephants in the future.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo is currently home to two African elephants. The following statement was prepared by Amy’s team of dedicated zookeepers:

“Amy was an extraordinary animal in every way. She was a very strong-willed elephant and taught us that when you invest the time and patience to build a relationship, it’s always worth it. Through her life, she brought joy to so many people, and we were lucky enough to share in that joy for her final years. The elephant house will feel very empty without her big personality in it.”

"Fresno Chaffee Zoo inspires wonder of our natural world, provides an engaging learning environment, and creates a passion for conservation."

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