One of Fresno’s largest residents passed away Wednesday (June 7) at the age of 40.

Kara, the Asian elephant housed at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, was humanely euthanized by zookeepers following problems with osteoarthritis that affected her mobility.

“While this was an extremely difficult decision, after much discussion about Kara’s compromised quality of life, the veterinary and animal care teams unanimously agreed that humane euthanasia was the right thing to do,” Dr. Shannon Nodolf, the zoo’s chief veterinary officer said in a news release.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo served as Kara’s home since 1983 after a career with the circus. Zookeepers are keeping an eye on Kara’s exhibit mate, 46-year-old Shaunzi, a fellow Asian elephant.

“It is well documented that elephants do recognize and understand death,” said Lyn Myers, general curator at the zoo in a news release. “After Kara’s death, we did give Shaunzi some time alone to say goodbye.”

The zoo says it will perform a necropsy in hopes of helping the future care of elephants.


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