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Chicago Zoo's Last Elephant Dies After Arriving in Utah

Associated Press
Tuesday, May 3, 2005; Page A02

CHICAGO, May 2 -- The last of three African elephants brought to Lincoln Park Zoo in 2003 -- over the objections of animal activists -- died soon after arriving at a Utah zoo with a warmer climate and elephant companions, officials said.

The health of Wankie the elephant deteriorated en route to Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, and officials there euthanized the 36-year-old animal on Sunday.

"We wouldn't expect an elephant this age to die," Lincoln Park Zoo spokeswoman Kelly McGrath said. "If we did, we might have looked at alternatives to moving her. We moved her because it's not good to let these animals live alone."

Wankie was one of three female elephants acquired by Lincoln Park Zoo from San Diego. Activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals argued that Chicago's harsh winters could be harmful to the elephants, which McGrath said were kept in a heated building when the temperature dropped below 40 degrees.

Officials decided to transfer Wankie after Peaches, 55, and Tatima, 35, died within months of each other.

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