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Saint Louis Zoo says Asian elephant, Rani, died unexpectedly

By Kalie Strain

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — Rani, a 27-year-old Asian elephant, died on Friday, the Saint Louis Zoo announced.

“We are absolutely devastated. We ask for the community’s thoughts and support during this difficult time,” said Michael Macek, Saint Louis Zoo Director. “Our team of professional animal care experts did everything possible, but we couldn’t save Rani.”

According to the zoo, initial results from the animal autopsy, known as a necropsy, showed that Rani had pre-existing changes in her heart.

On Friday, a loose dog caused other elephants outside in their enclosure to become agitated. As the elephants were moved inside, they remained agitated, the Saint Louis Zoo said. Rani, at the time, was indoors and never saw the dog but became agitated by the herd’s vocalizations.

In her agitation, the zoo said the Elephant Care Team saw her circle and vocalize before collapsing. The care team gave Rani emergency care but was unable to revive her.

“Rani was a special member of this elephant family group,” said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Zoological Manager of River’s Edge. “She loved playing with her sisters Maliha and Priya. While growing up here in St. Louis, she got to learn from her own mom, Ellie, on how to be an amazing mother herself. She had a great relationship with her animal care team and all of the other elephants. When socializing with her family she made a unique squeaking noise that her daughter Jade also mimics.”

River’s Edge Keeper Becky added, “It’s been a privilege to get to know Rani from just a youngster when she moved here to then watch her become a mother and grow with the elephant family. She will be greatly missed.”

The zoo said the Elephant Care Team and other elephants said goodbye to Rani on Friday evening.

To learn more about Rani and Asian elephant conservation, visit the Saint Louis Zoo’s website.

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