Many Upset Over Elephant's Death

Many Upset Over Elephant's Death

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Carole Mikita ReportingThe death of an elephant that had just arrived at Hogle Zoo has upset the veterinarians who tried to save her and animal rights groups who protested the move in the first place.

This first Monday in May has been a busy day at Hogle Zoo. Parents and teachers aware of what happened to Wankie, the elephant, but most children do not know. But Wankie had just arrived in Utah, those who knew her most recently are in Chicago.

Wankie was the last elephant at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. A resident there for two years, she collapsed on her way to Utah and was euthanized here Sunday morning.

Kevin Bell, Lincoln Park Zoo President: “This is a very sad day for our staff here at the zoo. Wankie was an animal keepers really felt very close to.”

She was headed for Hogle Zoo's 5 ½ million dollar elephant encounter, still under construction. Chicago zookeepers put her in a transport truck but she collapsed on the way. ¤4 ]] C1.5 G 12 [[

Craig Dinsmore, Exec. Dir. Hogle Zoo: "When Wankie arrived here, that's what we were faced with, an animal who had been collapsed in her crate for hours and had no ability to get up under her own power. And that's where we started."

Even as Wankie was leaving Chicago animal rights groups there and here were protesting, saying she should have gone to a sanctuary.

Sean Diener, Utah Animal Rights Coalition: "There were specialists who would have been able to transport her the correct way, instead they rushed it, they tried to do it within ten days. And she died as a consequence to that."

Both zoo officials say they don't know why Wankie collapsed, but when an animal that large goes down, the pressure of the intestines against the diaphragm makes it difficult to breathe. Dr. Nancy Carpenter and her colleagues at Hogle worked through Saturday night to save Wankie.

Dr. Nancy Carpenter: "We have cranes and hoists and mechanical equipment and we have the ability to do IV fluids. Just the amount of care we're able to give and so, I feel we really did everything we could for her."

Dr. Carpenter says Wankie's age could have been a factor -- at 38 she was fairly old for an elephant. But an autopsy will provide answers. Some zoo visitors had heard about Wankie's death.

Mindy Brewerton, Sharon Elementary 2nd Grader: "I don't really like animals dying, cause I like animals."

There was no extra expense for Hogle Zoo in Wankie's death. The San Diego Zoo paid for Wankie's transfer, the Lincoln Park Zoo paid staff to travel with her to Utah.

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