Image: © Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo Mourn Passing of African Elephant, Lisa


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


March 28, 2023 1:30 pm


Oakland Zoo, California, The United States

Oakland Zoo have made the difficult decision to euthanize their African Elephant, Lisa following a years long battle with chronic an degenerative health issues including arthritis. Recently these conditions have been worsened by a ventral edema which has developed.

Lisa has been a resident of Oakland since 1979. Over that time she has impacted the lives of millions of visitors, staff, volunteers, vets and keepers. In 2013 she first presented with arthritis which has been under treatment since. In 2021 vets developed a multimodal medical treatment plan to try and relieve this.

Lisa has been a deeply beloved part of our Oakland Zoo family since 1979. She was truly special to me, and to all of us here. Her loss is felt by so many, especially her closely bonded elephant keepers. We’ll miss her greatly,” said Colleen Kinzley, VP of Animal Care, Conservation and Research at Oakland Zoo.

In recent years as she became increasingly geriatric she had eye ulcers, foot and nail lesions and a ventral edema which led to excessive fluid retention and ulceration. As her condition progressed she found it difficult to lay down which contributed to the lesions. Keepers and vets attempted modifications to her living space to make laying down easier but with limited success.

At 46 years old she was the sixteenth oldest female elephant housed in AZA accredited zoos across the United States.

We are heartbroken. Over the years long course of care and treatments to provide her a good quality of life through multimodal pain control, her disease progressed to a point where we didn’t want her last day to be her worst day, and it was time to do the most humane thing and to let her go. This was the best thing for Lisa, but the most painful and heart wrenching for all her Zoo family and the Bay Area community that has loved her for decades,” said Dr. Alex Herman, VP of Veterinary Services at Oakland Zoo.

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine will conduct a necropsy (animal autopsy) which will help provide information on her condition and contribute date which can help treat elephants in the future.

Oakland Zoo support conservation of wild elephants through their work with the long-standing Amboseli Trust for Elephants. In America they have impacted the life of captive elephants by lobbying the California government to ban the use of bull hooks on elephants.

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More on Elephants!

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Our Favourite African Elephant Fact!

African elephants are considered to be highly intelligent with a brain which is four times the size of a humans. In studies they have been found to recognize their reflection when seen in a mirror, a rare trait among animals.

Image: © Oakland Zoo

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