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Tulsa Zoo’s first elephant begins hospice care

TULSA, Okla. – Gunda, the Tulsa Zoo’s first elephant, has started hospice care, according to zoo officials.

Zookeepers say she is experiencing a natural decline in her health because of her advanced age.

Gunda arrived at the Tulsa Zoo in 1954 making her the longest resident at the zoo.

She celebrated her 67th birthday last November, also making her among the oldest elephants in human care.

“As the animal who holds the distinction of living at the Tulsa Zoo longer than any other animal in our care, Gunda has a special place in our hearts,” says Vice President of Animal Conservation and Science Joe Barkowski. “She is one of our better-known residents thanks to her longevity, intelligence and, of course, physical size. We are grateful to be able to continue focusing on her quality of life.”

Zoo officials say they have recently noticed a decline in her health.

“We monitor her quality of life including mobility, appetite and attitude,” says Zoological Manager Michael Connolly. “We make adjustments daily, depending on how she is doing.”

Gunda remains in the elephant habitat with her companion female, Sooky.

Sneezy, the male elephant, is always nearby but is not housed with Gunda.

Gunda is known by her zookeepers as an easygoing elephant, who gets along with the other animals and all of the animal care staff.