Bronx Zoo euthanizes 48-year-old elephant after illness

The Bronx Zoo has lost one of its own. 

Maxine, a 48-year-old Asian elephant who came to the zoo in 1973, was euthanized Tuesday, the Bronx Zoo announced.

The elephant’s health had deteriorated to the point that she was no longer capable of eating, after being treated for elevated liver and kidney enzymes, the zoo said in a release.

The decision wasn’t easy for the zoo, stated Jim Breheny, director of the Bronx Zoo and executive vice president of Zoos & Aquarium at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Caring for animals is a great privilege and a great responsibility,” Breheny said. “We made a commitment to provide the best care for Maxine 45 years ago and today we met our final obligation to her.”

Maxine died surrounded by the keepers, curators and veterinarians who cared for her.

“We have great memories of Maxine; she was a wonderful animal with a great personality,” he said. “She was loved by those who cared for her each day as well as the millions of visitors she inspired in over four decades at the Bronx Zoo.”

The zoo has two remaining elephants, Happy, 47, and Patty, 48, and is evaluating its elephant program in the wake of Maxine’s death.

“The plan we develop for our elephants moving forward will be based on our expertise in elephant behavior and husbandry, veterinary evaluation,” said Breheny, “and, most of all, on an intimate, in-depth understanding of our individual animals and their needs.”