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African elephant dies at Oakland Zoo

Lisa the African elephant in the pool at the Oakland Zoo
Steven L. Gotz
Oakland Zoo
Lisa the African elephant in the pool at the Oakland Zoo

Lisa — a 46-year-old African elephant — spent the majority of her life at the Oakland Zoo, where she first arrived in 1979.

During her long residency there, she became a beloved part of the community. When asked what Lisa meant to the zoo’s staff and guests, Dr. Alex Herman — Vice President of Veterinary Services at the zoo — smiled and said, "Oh, my gosh! Where do I start? Well, she was very intelligent, and very charismatic, and very social."

Unfortunately, over the last decade, Lisa’s health began to decline as she developed arthritis and other age-related ailments.

Dr. Herman and the rest of the team provided as much care as they could, but this year they determined Lisa’s quality of life had diminished too greatly. Dr. Herman said, "We don’t want her last day to be her worst."

So with heavy hearts, they humanely euthanized Lisa on Sunday.

Because elephants are such social creatures, Dr. Herman says the Oakland Zoo has already thought about arrangements for the remaining African elephants: Donna and Osh.

Donna, another elderly female, will move to a reserve in Tennessee. Osh, a younger bull, will remain in Oakland until an ideal situation is found for him.

Andrew is a scientist and communicator who wants to make scientific research accessible to everyone and to ensure that science is discussed accurately and responsibly.