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Seattle-based group asking USDA to investigate elephant’s death at Oklahoma City Zoo

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SEATTLE, Wash. –  A Seattle-based advocacy group is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the recent death of an Asian elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

The elephant, named Chai, was transferred from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to the Oklahoma facility eight months ago, along with another elephant, named Bambo. Zookeepers found Chai dead in the elephant yard Saturday morning.

Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants says it filed a complaint Tuesday with the USDA. The organization says it’s concerned that Chai died at age 37 _ which it says is far younger than the expected Asian elephant lifespan of 60 to 70 years in the wild and the median lifespan of 47 years for zoo elephants.

Members opposed the transfer of the elephants to zoo, saying they should have been sent to an elephant sanctuary.

On Wednesday, protesters will hold a vigil outside the zoo, asking the facility to close its elephant exhibit in the wake of the elephant deaths in recent months.

The protest, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1230 p.m., will feature people dressed in black outside the zoo.