Tulsa Zoo starts end-of-life care for its oldest elephant, Gunda

TULSA -- The Tulsa Zoo is starting end-of-life care for its oldest animal, Gunda the elephant. 

The zoo made the announcement Tuesday. According to a news release, the zoo's animal care and veterinary staff members decided to start hospice care for the 67-year-old elephant because of her declining health and advanced age. 

"We monitor her quality of life including mobility, appetite and attitude," Zoological Manager Michael Connolly said in the release. "We make adjustments daily, depending on how she's doing." 

Gunda first arrived at the Tulsa Zoo in 1954, becoming the first elephant to be housed there. The zoo reported that she'll remain at the elephant habitat with her companions, Sooky and Sneezy, while staff members monitor her quality of life.

"Hospice care, we feel, is something that doesn't necessarily change a lot of parameters for animal care or the health care and the offerings for them," Joe Barkwoski, the vice president of animal conservation and science, said. "It gets everyone ready: on our staff, all of our supporters and the community to know that we don't want you to be surprised when the end does come." 

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