A small dog running loose in a zoo has tragically caused the death of an elephant leaving staff "devastated".
The 27-year-old Asian elephant, named Rani, died after her herd became agitated by the dog at St. Louis Zoo in Missouri, US, on Friday, with the zoo announcing her sad loss on Tuesday. "We are absolutely devastated. We ask for the community's thoughts and support during this difficult time," said zoo Director Michael Macek.
The little dog was spotted running in a non-public area near the Elephant Barn. Despite efforts to contain the dog, one elephant became agitated and was moved inside. Rani, who was already inside eating, didn't see the dog but reacted to the herd's distress.
Zoo staff saw Rani become upset and vocalise before collapsing. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. The rest of the herd calmed down quickly. Initial checks showed some changes in Rani's heart, but further tests are being conducted to determine if these played a role in her death.
Rani and her mum, Ellie, arrived at the St. Louis Zoo from another zoo in July 2001. The move was recommended by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan to manage their population and health.
'I had my giant puppies put down after they dragged me outside and tore my clothes off'
The World Wildlife Fund says Asian elephants are endangered, with fewer than 50,000 in the wild. Habitat loss and poaching are blamed for their plight. It is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent.
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