Arna with her close companion Gigi enjoying breakfast recently. Photo: LEONIE SAVILLEARNA the Asian elephant will be remembered as the ‘nice old lady’ of Taronga Western Plains Zoo after she passed away late last week.
The 54-year-old elephant was found dead by one of her keepers on Friday evening.
She was one of three Asian elephants that call the Dubbo zoo home along with Gigi and Burma who are now mourning her loss.
Zoo veterinarian Michelle Campbell said there had been no signs of illness in the elderly elephant before her passing.
“We conducted initial tests to determine cause of death, but believe her passing is due to age-related illness,” she said.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo had been Arna’s home since January 2008 after she retired from the Stardust Circus with companion Gigi.
Arna will be remembered by her keepers for her personality and favourite treats.
“Arna was a very calm elephant,” Ms Campbell said.
“She was a fussy eater but really liked whole carrots and sugar cane.”
Close companion Gigi was given time to spend with Arna’s body after she died to help adjust to the loss of her friend.
The same mourning behaviour is seen in elephants that live in the wild when a member of their herd dies.
The Asian elephants have been monitored closely by their keepers after Arna’s passing, which Ms Campbell said would continue.
“Staff will spend extra time with both Gigi and the zoo’s other Asian elephant, Burma, over the coming days and weeks as they adjust to the loss of Arna,” she said.
Arna will be buried on site at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo with no specific ceremony to be held.
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