COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A female African elephant, Petunia, who made her home at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia for nearly the last 10 years died suddenly on Saturday.
Zoo staff made the announcement about the elephant's death on Saturday evening. Veterinary staff said they made the difficult decision to euthanize 44-year-old Petunia because of deteriorating health. When staff arrived Saturday morning they said Petunia was unable to stand.
"Euthanasia was necessary because of her sudden decline in health," said Martha Weber, senior veterinarian at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Petunia lived a long life as a result of the incredible care she received over the course of her life."
Officials said the Median Life Expectancy of female African elephants in AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) managed populations is 38.4 years. Riverbanks also is home to three other geriatric females: Robin is 47 years old, Penny is 37 years old and Belle is 35.5 years old.
Petunia came to Riverbanks from Disney's Animal Kingdom, along with Robin, in 2007. Petunia also lived for a short while at Toledo Zoo in Ohio and at Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee.
Riverbanks is now awaiting the results of a necropsy. The final results usually take six to eight weeks.