If you have visited the Phoenix Zoo within the last 20 years, chances are you saw one of their most popular animals on your stroll around the park.
On Thursday, the Phoenix Zoo sadly announced that their 51-year-old Asian elephant Reba, who lived at the Phoenix Zoo for more than 20 years, had died. The elephant was humanely euthanized earlier this week after a “recent and irreversible decline in her health,” the zoo announced.
Reba made her new home at the zoo in 1999, after coming from the Ringling Brothers Centers for Elephant Conservation in Florida. She was one of three elephants who lived at the zoo, joining Sheena, 48, and Indu, 54.
While over the years, Reba had been treated for arthritis and inflammation, her keepers became concerned recently after noticing the elephant would not explore her habitat and was not engaged with them. The zoo installed a camera in her habitat to keep watch on her overnight and the video “showed her to be inactive and uncomfortable,” the zoo said.
“Given her decline, physically, and poor long-term prognosis, they feel they have exhausted all treatment options. The decision to euthanize is never taken lightly and team members have had no shortage of conversations, meetings, efforts and tears in assessing her quality of life and making this difficult decision,” the zoo said in a news release.
Heather Wright, elephant manager at the zoo, said in a statement: “Reba is incredibly intelligent and probably most well-known as the elephant who enjoys a firehose shower during our “Winter in July” celebration. She has a larger than life personality and is by far the most vocal elephant in the barn. Her squeaks, rumbles, and trumpets will be missed by everyone who knows her. There really are no words to convey how much her loss will mean to those who know and love her. Reba is one of a kind and will be missed beyond measure.”
Until last year, the zoo had one large habitat for all three of the elephants. The three elephants did not like to be in the same area together and preferred to live life apart versus as a herd and because of this they have to be rotated in and out of the habitat throughout the day. Last year, the zoo made expansions to the elephants’ habitat, creating two additional spaces, which allowed for all three elephants to be out at the same time.
A memorial page has been created for people to leave messages. Due to the of the COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo is currently closed until further notice.