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Connie the Elephant Euthanized At The San Diego Zoo

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By Amanda Schwartz

Just a few months after arriving at San Diego Zoo from Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, the 45 year-old Asian elephant Connie was euthanized this week following a severe decline in her already-compromised health.

Connie came to San Diego in February along with her friend of 30 years, Shaba, a 31-year-old African elephant. Initially only Connie was supposed be transferred, but patrons of the Tucson zoo said it would be cruel to separate the long-time friends. With the $500,000 donation of animal activist Bob Barker, the two were allowed to remain together, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Although both Connie and Shaba seemed to be integrating well with the zoo’s existing middle-aged and geriatric elephant herd, Connie had health problems from the beginning, mostly urinary tract infections, veterinarian Tracy Clippinger wrote on the San Diego Zoo’s blog. But this is common for middle-aged females of a number of species, including both elephants and humans, noted Clippinger.

Still, after several months, her condition began to deteriorate from more urinary tract issues to a test revealing that Connie had a low white blood cell count. She also had a lot of fluid floating in her abdomen, making it difficult for her to breathe. Although the series of tests administered to Connie indicated her health was declining, it did not reveal the root cause of her illness—only that she would not survive without intensive support for her system.

Shaba has been making strides in making new friends after she lost one, according to the zoo’s blog. But that doesn't make the scene right after Connie was euthanized any less heartbreaking: Shaba gave her a final goodbye with the touch of her trunk.

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