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Tulsa Zoo’s first elephant dies at 67

TULSA, Okla. – Gunda, the Tulsa Zoo’s first elephant, died earlier this week, according to zoo officials.

Zookeepers said she was 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.

The decision to humanely euthanize Gunda was made when animal care and veterinary staff determined that her quality of life was in decline.

Due to her advanced age, Gunda had been diagnosed with several geriatric related conditions. Treatment to control and slow degenerative processes such as joint disease had been implemented and helpful to Gunda for many years.

Recently, there came a point where treatment was no longer going to be effective in holding off the effects of time.


“This is never an easy decision, but we owed it to Gunda to make her comfortable” says Director of Animal Health Kay Backues, DVM. “She was attended to by her human caretakers who had taken care of her for many years. All of us who have cared for Gunda were present to make her passing a safe and gentle process.”

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