Phoenix Zoo’s Sheena the elephant dies

Sheena, the Phoenix Zoo's 50-year-old Asian elephant, died on Monday, Nov. 22.
Sheena, the Phoenix Zoo's 50-year-old Asian elephant, died on Monday, Nov. 22.(Phoenix Zoo)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 11:20 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The Phoenix Zoo is mourning the loss of a beloved elephant. Sheena, the zoo’s 50-year-old Asian elephant, died on Monday morning, Nov. 22, from natural causes, the zoo said. Her keepers found her lying down in her barn and unable to get up. She died shortly after. The zoo said Sheena had been battling chronic osteoarthritis and gastrointestinal issues for the past few years.

Sheena arrived at the zoo in 2000 from the Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation. She was at the zoo for 21 years. “She wasn’t outwardly rambunctious, but we’d hear her playing with toys in the barn, and when we’d come around the corner to watch her, she would freeze and give a look like ‘What? It wasn’t me!’ and act innocent. It was so funny!” Heather Wright, a manager of elephants, said in a statement. Wright described Sheena as intelligent, sweet and “seemed to love everybody.”

Wright said during end-of-life tours for people who had a “last wish” to see the elephants at the zoo, Sheen would gravitate to that person and offer out a kind and insightful “rumble.” Guests would say they had a deep connection with her. “It was a beautiful thing to witness,” said Wright.

Officials said Sheen was a companion to Indu and Reba, who died in April 2020. The average life span for Asian elephants is 45 years old.

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