Elephant 'Judy' dies after long illness at BR Zoo

Published: Mar. 29, 2013 at 3:14 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2013 at 3:22 PM CDT
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Asian Elephant Judy dies at age 46 (Source: BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo)
Asian Elephant Judy dies at age 46 (Source: BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo)

BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It is a sad day at the Baton Rouge Zoo. Judy, an Asian elephant that lived at the Zoo since 1974, has died. Judy was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was 46.

According to officials at the Zoo, Judy was diagnosed with arthritis in 1983 when she developed arthritis and stiffness in her knee/carpal joint. The Zoo Veterinarian and staff treated her arthritis for 29 years, and provided her with arthritis medication, pain medication and physical therapy. These endeavors helped Judy and added to her quality of life.

Zoo Veterinarian Gordon Pirie said, "we provided Judy a quality of life and longevity beyond expectation. Our goal was to make her comfortable however her condition deteriorated as she aged. Judy was in the best hands for her care during her life time."

Baton Rouge Zoo's accreditation body, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has, through the years, set professional standards governing the proper care and keeping for elephants. The Zoo staff participates fully in this ongoing process of raising the bar in the area of animal welfare as it relates to many animals, including elephants. Data from Judy's case was a source of valuable information to a professional network of zoo veterinarians and animal care staff worldwide who constantly research such conditions in elephants.

A necropsy will be performed at the Zoo.

She is survived by Bozie, a 37-year-old female Asian elephant. Median life expectancy for female Asian elephants is 46.9 years.

"Judy had a long life at our Zoo," said Zoo Director Phil Frost. "We feel privileged to have cared for her throughout her life, and our staff is deeply saddened by this loss. Unfortunately, death is a reality all living things, including we humans, must face. While times like these are very emotional for our staff, we must remember that having geriatric animals speaks to the level of care they receive at the Zoo."

Individuals wishing to make donation or memorial gift can send them to:
Elephant Conservation Fund, Baton Rouge Zoo, PO Box 60, Baker, LA 70704