An African elephant at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been euthanased after suffering a mystery illness.
Yum Yum was the Dubbo zoo’s longest-living resident and the oldest African elephant in Australia.
Veterinary staff will conduct tests to determine the illness Yum Yum suffered before her death yesterday.
Keepers noticed the unexpected decline early last week and veterinary staff monitored her closely, an emotional zoo general manager Matt Fuller said when making the announcement yesterday.
“Yum Yum has been one of our aged residents who has obviously been closely monitored and cared for as an aged animal,” he said.
“During this last week she has shown severe signs of illness, which from yesterday certainly gave us the indication that it was a condition that was going to be irreversible.
“Throughout the night and this morning the very difficult and incredibly challenging decision by veterinary staff and zoo keepers was made to put Yum Yum to sleep to ensure her comfort was the primary decision in the process.”
Yum Yum, who had an estimated age of 41, was well loved by both keepers and visitors to Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
She had lived at the zoo since it opened in 1977, when she arrived with two other African elephants, Cheri and Cuddles, from the United Kingdom.
Cheri died in 2007, aged 35.
Elephants are susceptible to many age-related illnesses, Mr Fuller said.
Zoo staff’s attention in the coming days will be in caring for the other resident elephants, including her “best mate”.
“Yum Yum’s companion, African elephant Cuddles, had shown concern for Yum Yum and keepers will spend time with her her over the coming days as she mourns the loss and adjusts,” zoo general manager Matt Fuller said.
“There are also three female Asian elephants in the adjacent exhibit and Cuddles will continue to have visual and sensory contact with them.”
Zoo staff were also mourning the death of Yum Yum, described as having “a unique personality” and “highly intelligent”.
“It’s a very challenging time for them, they’re incredibly sad, there’s no other way to describe it,” Mr Fuller said.