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Tulsa Zoo Mourns Loss of Asian Elephant

TULSA, Okla. (Nov. 15, 2015) The Tulsa Zoo is deeply saddened to announce the loss of one of its newest Asian elephants, Tova.

Staff observed initial signs of discomfort in Tova on Nov. 9. Our animal care and health teams have worked around the clock to understand and identify the source of her symptoms. Colleagues from the Center for Elephant Conservation also came to consult with our own experts to ensure all avenues for treatment were explored.

Despite all efforts, Tova’s health rapidly declined early Sunday morning. Our zoo’s veterinarians along with other experts agreed that it was best to end her suffering through humane euthanasia. An assessment of what caused this drastic decline is under way.

“The loss of any animal in our care is difficult, but elephants hold a special place for so many of our supporters and our staff – even one who was here for such a brief time,”  said Joe Barkowski, Vice President of Animal Conservation & Science. “The Tulsa Zoo remains committed to elephants – their care, their welfare and their conservation. We will honor Tova’s memory by continuing this mission.”

The median life expectancy for female Asian elephants in human care is about 47 years old. At 43, Tova was one of the older Asian elephants in human care.

Tova, and fellow Asian elephant, Asha, arrived at the Tulsa Zoo on Sept. 28 through a partnership with Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ®. Tova and Asha came from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation ® in Florida. Home to the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America, the CEC is dedicated to the conservation of these endangered pachyderms. Asha traveled with Tova as a companion, and will remain at the zoo for several months before returning to the CEC.

In addition to Asha, the Tulsa Zoo is home to Asian elephants, Gunda, Sooky and Sneezy.

Members of the public who would like to share kind words for those who cared for Tova can email or post on the zoo’s Facebook page at