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Spain's Queen Sofia Trying To Cheer Up Depressed Elephant

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MADRID — Susi, the only elephant at the Barcelona zoo, lives in a small pen, has lost her best friend, and is said to be depressed. But now someone has come to her aid _ not a fairy godmother or even a princess, but a queen.

Spain's Queen Sofia is asking Barcelona City Hall to move Susi, 36, to a larger space, perhaps at a safari-style park.

The Foundation for the Adoption, Sponsorship and Defense of Animals said Wednesday that it wrote to the Royal Palace in February, and the queen promised to intervene.

"The queen is very sympathetic to animals," said foundation president Carla Cornella. "She wants to know what is the best situation for Susi."

The animal rights group said it has not yet received a response from City Hall, which runs the zoo.

Born in the wild in Africa, Susi has been sad since her female companion, Alicia, who shared her pen, died last year, the organization said.

The elephant's behavior, such as eating her excrement and continuously swaying her head and trunk from side to side, show deep depression and boredom, according to another animal rights group, Libera a Susi.

This group has complained Susi lives alone in a 1,000 square-meter (1,200 square yards) concrete compound. The group said the European Association of Zoo and Aquariums recommends elephants live in herds and in spaces of no fewer than 2 hectares (five acres).

"Susi is not well," Cornella said. "If she stays there, she'll die there."

Barcelona zoo officials were not immediately available for comment. The El Pais newspaper reported the zoo has described the elephant as being in good health.