California’s Oakland Zoo announced on Wednesday, December 4, that its oldest African elephant, 50-year-old M’Dunda, died suddenly in the herd’s 6.5-acre habitat on Tuesday afternoon.
Zookeepers found M’Dunda collapsed and immediately cleared the area, but when veterinarians rushed to her aid they found that she was already dead, the zoo said.
According to the zoo, M’Dunda arrived in 1993 from the San Diego Zoo and was known for her “very gentle and kind demeanor.”
Commenting on her death, President and CEO of Oakland Zoo Dr Joel Parrott said: “M’Dunda has been part of our Oakland Zoo family for 26 years. She was such a gentle being, and closely bonded with her keepers. We’ll miss her greatly.”
According to a 2008 study led by Ros Clubb of the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), African elephants in captivity have an average lifespan of 17 years, compared to those living in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, which live up to 56 years. Credit: Oakland Zoo via Storyful