A 45-year-old African elephant’s unexpected death at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo has fanned the flames of the ongoing debate about the humaneness of elephant captivity.
Watoto was euthanized after she was found on her side in an outdoor elephant exhibit yard on Friday. Attempts to place her back on her feet had failed. Zoo medical staff assessed that her health was rapidly declining so they made “the difficult decision” to humanely euthanize her, according to the zoo’s press release.
“This is a very difficult time for our zoo family as we mourn the loss of Watoto, a beloved animal and dear friend to our staff and volunteers, members and community,” said Bruce Bohmke, Woodland Park Zoo’s Chief Operations Officer, in a statement. “Watoto has lived a long, healthful life at Woodland Park Zoo under the care of dedicated keepers and staff. We will all miss her greatly.”