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Sophi, 52-Year-Old African Elephant, Dies At Indianapolis Zoo

The entrance to the Indianapolis Zoo.

A 52-year-old African elephant named Sophi has died at the Indianapolis Zoo. (Durin-en/Wikimedia Commons)

A 52-year-old African elephant named Sophi has died at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Zoo officials said Thursday that they made “the difficult decision” to euthanize Sophi after her condition declined over the last few days.

“Our Zoo family is grieving today as we say goodbye to a much-loved friend,” the zoo said in a Facebook post Thursday. “She lived a long and wonderful life here. She was a majestic elephant who was loved by our herd, the staff, volunteers and generations of Hoosiers.”

The zoo’s animal care team was attending to the elephant closely in the days preceding her death.

Sophi’s death was “due to her age,” zoo spokeswoman Carla Knapp told The Indianapolis Star. Sophi “far exceeded” the median life expectancy of 38 years for female African elephants and was among the oldest African elephants in human care in North America, Knapp said.

In 2019, two elephants died at the Indianapolis Zoo due to an outbreak of Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus Hemorrhagic Disease. Knapp told The Star that Sophi tested negative for the virus earlier this week.

Sophi was born in 1968 and came to Indianapolis from a safari park in Canada in 1989.

“She was the biggest and one of the oldest animals here, and the undisputed leader of our herd,” the zoo said on Facebook. “We are already missing her loud trumpet and majestic presence.”

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