Mimi, an elephant familiar to Denver Zoo visitors since she arrived in 1961, has died.
The female Asian elephant was believed to be at least 53 years old, but her birth date was not known. If she was 53, she would have been the seventh oldest elephant in a North American zoo.
The Denver Zoo announced that Mimi was refusing food and medication in August, but the veterinary evaluations didn't diagnose any problems other than advanced age and arthritis.
The zoo decided to offer Mimi a version of hospice care.
"They focused on providing her comfort and allowing her to choose how she spent her remaining days. She had good days and bad days and often preferred to stay in a private outdoor yard behind the scenes at Toyota Elephant Passage," said zoo veterinarian Diana Boon.
On Tuesday, Mimi lost the ability to move her trunk and had difficulty standing. The Denver Zoo said she was humanely euthanized that evening.
"This is never an easy decision, but it was the right one," said the zoo's Vice President for Animal Collections Brian Aucone.
The Denver Zoo is home to three other Asian elephants, female Dolly, and males Groucho and Bodhi.