SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – They’re one of the most loved animals at the zoo. Today staff, visitors, and animals said goodbye to the beloved and larger-than-life Dari.
“there’s one that passed away!” said 4-year-old Alexis Ackley.
“How did that make you feel?” I asked.
“sad.” she replied.
The 55-year-old African Elephant passed away after battling with numerous issues relating to her health, and no one had a harder time saying good bye than the people who cared for her day-in and day-out.
“We’re a family here, a little community here, it’s just, it’s a sad day and we’ll miss her for a very long time,” said Community Relation Coordinator Erica Hansen.
As months went on staff became more concerned with her weakening strength. She had several episodes of falling including one Saturday morning, leading experts to be concerned with her comfort and mobility.
Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Associate Director of Animal Health at Hogle Zoo says they’ve had to raise her up with a crane after falling and “she wasn’t bouncing back from those episodes, and we were concerned that that was not the right approach to take with her today, so we chose to humanely euthanize her.”
For close to 50 years, Dari greeted millions of visitors with her graceful presence and sass attitude. She surpassed the life expectancy of elephants in the wild by thirteen years becoming the longest-lived African Elephant in North America, a testament to the excellent care and attention she received.
“We have many animals that exceed the longevity expectation for those species, we feel like it’s due to the excellent care we give to the animals here at the zoo,” said Dr. Carpenter.
Those who cared for her will remember a loving elephant. Who sought affection for no reason, but was careful to get near anyone until you earned her trust.
Dr. Nancy who cared for Dari for 15 years finds the loss especially hard, “she had such a personality and was such a great elephant.”
An elephant that touched the lives of many, both young and old.
“Will you miss the elephant,” asked Alexis Ackley’s mother Samantha.
“Yea,” she cried as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Hogle Zoo staff say elephants are expected to go extinct in the next 30-years. They ask the community to log onto 96elephants.org and help save the species in memory of Dari.