WACO, Texas — The staff of Cameron Park Zoo in Waco is heartbroken over the unexpected loss of Tanya, one of the zoo's female African elephants.
Despite exhaustive efforts by the Zoo’s veterinarian and animal care staff to save her, she passed on Tuesday, September 29, the Zoo said.
Tanya, 40, came to Cameron Park Zoo in 2007 from the Abilene Zoo. She was a favorite among the animal care staff because of her huge personality. She was known for her unique, “Raspberry” vocalization that she greeted her keepers with every morning.
Tanya loved to play with her large enrichment tire and giving “high fives” to anyone that would let her. She also loved to play her harmonica and painting.
A medical team consisting of members from the Pathology Department of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and Dr. J. Jill Heatley from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences assisted the Zoo's veterinarian with the necropsy (animal autopsy) Wednesday.
The preliminary necropsy showed that Tanya had a disease that severely affected the circulatory system and in turn the heart, lungs and brain. The team suspects that an acute infection may be the underlying cause. However, the exact cause of death is pending until the Zoo receives a complete report of the necropsy.
According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the median age for African female elephants in captivity is 38.6 years of age. As veterinary care and animal husbandry advances, geriatric care has become an increasing emphasis at AZA-accredited zoos. Cameron Park Zoo said it is especially important because many of the animals have been at the zoo since 1993 or shortly afterwards and are approaching the end of their lifespans.
Animal care staff members often spend more time with the animals under their care than their own family members. The entire staff is grieving the loss of Tanya, but they are comforted in knowing that she and the other animals are well-loved and given the best care during their time at Cameron Park Zoo, the Zoo said.
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