DENVER -- Denver Zoo officials are mourning the death of Dolly, an Asian elephant who was recently put under hospice care due to declining health. She was euthanized Friday.
"Unfortunately, we knew she was not going to recover, and the humane decision was to euthanize her. We never take this decision lightly, but we knew it was the right one for Dolly. She will be greatly missed,” said Denver Zoo associate veterinarian Betsy Stringer.
Born in the wild, Dolly's exact age was never known, but she was believed to be at least 52-years-old at the time of her death, exceeding her life expectancy by several years.
She was the 10th oldest elephant in a North American Zoo and was accredited as such by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), according to Denver Zoo officials.
Officials said her gradual health decline became more noticeable in the past six months, as she suffered from foot issues and age-related arthritis. Her appetite also declined considerably, which indicated more "internal difficulties," Denver Zoo officials said in a press release.
"It is a sad day for all of our Denver Zoo team and the metro Denver community who visited her over the years, but we know this was the right decision because her health was failing and there was nothing more we could do," said senior vice president for animal care and conservation, Brian Aucone.
Dolly first came to the Denver Zoo in 1986 as a privately-owned elephant before coming a permanent resident. She was described as loveable and quirky.
The average life expectancy for female Asian elephants in zoos is 46.9 years, according to the AZA’s Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan.