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Chicago Zoological Society Mourns the Death of African Elephant

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Special to

Brookfield, Ill.—The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is deeply saddened to announce the death of Christy, an African elephant at Brookfield Zoo, today. The 29-year-old pachyderm, who arrived at the zoo in 1984, was humanely euthanized as a result of renal (kidney) failure. Necropsy findings concluded that Christy had a structurally abnormal right kidney, roughly 1/10 the size of a normal kidney, as well as an enlarged left ureter—non-treatable conditions most consistent with congenital defects.


In 2007, Christy was diagnosed with an enlarged ureter (one of the tubes that carriers urine from the kidneys to the bladder). “At that time, there was no indication that she had degenerative kidney disease and we fully expected Christy to have a much longer life,” said Mike Adkesson, DVM, associate veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo. “As with all animals in our care, Christy’s health was continuously monitored by veterinary staff,” added Adkesson. However, over the past few days, Christy’s condition took a turn for the worse as she went into complete renal failure and began to deteriorate rapidly. Over this past weekend, CZS staff consulted with several large animal experts from universities and the top zoo and elephant specialists in the country who unanimously agreed Christy’s condition was irreversible. The necropsy results confirmed this diagnosis by CZS staff and elephant experts. Veterinarians stated that it was surprising Christy lived 29 years with this condition, and her quality of life was a testament to the excellent care she received at Brookfield Zoo.


Extraordinary efforts were made by the Animal Programs staff to make Christy as comfortable as possible. When her quality of life began to deteriorate, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her. CZS staff informed the USDA of Christy’s condition and her death.


“Christy’s keepers and the other staff at Brookfield Zoo are devastated by the loss of this charismatic animal, however, they are comforted by the knowledge that CZS did everything in its power to help Christy, including allowing her a peaceful end to her life,” said Carol Sodaro, associate curator of mammals for CZS. “She will be greatly missed by those who cared for her on a daily basis as well as the zoo guests who came to visit her.”


 “Elephants are very social animals, and it is important that Joyce, the other elephant at Brookfield Zoo, has companionship, and we are committed to keeping her welfare as our top priority,” said Sodaro.


The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, plays an important role in elephant conservation globally and is committed to continuing and expanding its elephant program as well as supporting elephant conservation.


The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.

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