One of the oldest and most beloved residents of the Denver Zoo, Mimi the elephant, passed away on Tuesday.
"This is an incredibly sad loss for Denver Zoo and our community. A member of our family for more than half a century, she was a wonderful, charismatic ambassador to countless zoo guests. Words cannot describe how much she will be missed by us all," Denver Zoo President and CEO Craig Piper said in a news release.
Born in India, Mimi's birthdate is not known, but she was estimated to be 53 years old--making her the seventh oldest elephant in a North American Zoo. She had been living at the Denver Zoo since 1961.
According to The Times of India, the average life span of an elephant can be anywhere between 40 and 65 years.
Mimi began receiving hospice care from the zoo in August when zoo veterinarians and caretakers began to notice she was refusing food and medication.
"She's quite the chowhound, and seeing her not want to eat is new and concerning," said large-mammal curator Dale Leeds told the Denver Post when Mimi began hospice care.
However, medical assessments did not reveal much beyond old age and arthritis.
In past couple of months, zookeepers allowed Mimi to decide where in the exhibit she was most comfortable. According to them, Mimi's favorite place lately had been the private outdoor yard behind the scenes of the Toyota Elephant Passage where she went mostly unobserved by zoo patrons.
"This is never an easy decision, but it was the right one. We watched Mimi closely and saw her condition deteriorate rapidly. We made a promise to her to keep her comfortable and decided it was time to say goodbye. We'll all miss her very much," said Vice President for Animal Collections Brian Aucone.
The Denver Zoo posted the sad news on its Facebook page:
We are sad to share that Mimi, our oldest Asian elephant, passed away on October 9, 2012. Recently Zookeepers had been offering her hospice care as she had displayed a natural decline in health over the past few months due to her advanced age. Our elephant care team has worked around the clock to provide loving care to make Mimi as comfortable as possible. However, yesterday, Mimi lost the ability to move her trunk and had difficulty standing. Having lost her quality of life, Mimi was humanely euthanized yesterday evening.
In memory of Mimi, please feel free you share your thoughts and memories of her here on our Facebook page. There will also be cards for friends to share their thoughts and memories here at the zoo.
Mimi is survived by three other Asian elephant residents of the Denver Zoo, female Dolly and males Groucho and Bodhi.