WACO, Texas – Cameron Park Zoo staff is mourning the sudden and unexpected loss of one of its African elephants.

Despite exhaustive efforts by the zoo’s veterinarian and animal care staff to save 40-year-old Tanya, she passed on Tuesday, September 29.

Tanya came to Cameron Park Zoo in 2007 from the Abilene Zoo, and was a favorite among the animal care staff due to her huge personality.

The zoo says Tanya was known for her unique “raspberry” vocalization that she greeted her keepers with every morning. She loved playing with her large enrichment tire and giving “high fives” to
anyone who would let her. Tanya also loved playing her harmonica and painting.

On Wednesday, a medical team consisting of members from the pathology department of the TVMDL (Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory) and Dr. J. Jill Heatley from the Texas A & M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences assisted the zoo’s veterinarian with the necropsy (animal autopsy).

A preliminary necropsy showed a disease which severely affected the circulatory system – and in turn the heart, lungs and brain. The team suspects an acute infection may be the underlying cause. However, the exact cause of death is pending until the zoo receives a complete report of the necropsy. It could be several weeks before a full report is received.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the median age for African female elephants in captivity is 38.6 years of age. As veterinary care and animal husbandry advances, geriatric care is becoming an increasing emphasis at AZA-accredited zoos. It is especially important at Cameron Park Zoo because many of the animals have been at the zoo since 1993 or shortly afterwards, and are approaching the end of their lifespans. Animal care staff members often spend more time with the animals under their care than their own family members.

The entire staff is grieving the loss of Tanya, but they are comforted in knowing that she and the other animals are well-loved and given the best care during their time at the zoo.

Source: Cameron Park Zoo