An elephant at the St. Louis Zoo died Friday, shortly after a small dog caused her herd to panic, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The female Asian elephant’s death was announced Tuesday, after workers allegedly failed to catch an unleashed dog running in a non-public area that agitated the other elephants near the Elephant Barn, according to AP.
Elephant dies at St. Louis Zoo shortly after her herd became agitated from a dog running loose https://t.co/j8bpl3aTCg
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) October 18, 2023
“We are absolutely devastated,” zoo director Michael Macek said in a news release cited by the outlet. “We ask for the community’s thoughts and support during this difficult time. Our team of professional animal care experts did everything possible, but we couldn’t save Rani.”
One elephant was outside the barn before being moved inside once it became agitated, AP reported. Reactions from the other elephants allegedly upset Rani, who was eating and did not notice the dog.
“Rani [became] agitated in reaction to the vocalizations from the herd,” the release continued. “They [elephant care team members] saw Rani circle and vocalize, all within a very brief period, before collapsing.”
Rani could not be revived, according to the outlet. Necropsy results showed preexisting changes to Rani’s heart, but it is unknown whether the changes contributed to her death, which remains under investigation.
The other elephants calmed down quickly, AP reported. (RELATED: Elephant Raids A Woman’s Kitchen As Natural Habitats Dwindle)
The dog was placed in a shelter. It is unknown how the dog entered the zoo, which is located in the middle of Forest Park. The zoo has a strict policy on service animals and does not allow pets, a spokeswoman told AP.
Rani had resided at the St. Louis Zoo since 2001, when she arrived with her mother, Ellie, according to the outlet. Ellie is still alive at the zoo at age 52.