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Rotterdam zoo’s oldest elephant, Irma, dies at age 53

The oldest elephant at Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam, named Irma, passed away at the age of 53, the zoo announced on Monday. Due to health concerns, the decision to euthanize her was made after discussions between the veterinarian and caregivers.

Irma was born in 1970 in Copenhagen and arrived in Rotterdam five years later. In 1984, she became the first elephant in a Dutch zoo to give birth. By 2014, Irma had become a great-grandmother. The elephant gave birth to six offspring, had 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Irma’s health had declined for years and worsened significantly in recent weeks. She lost considerable weight, became introverted, and was missing essential molars for grinding food. She also had joint issues and was on pain relief. According to the zoo, she was also increasingly trying to isolate herself from the herd.

“It was not an easy decision that we had to make together. Irma played an important social role in the Rotterdam elephant family and spawned an entire dynasty,” remarked elephant keeper Kasper Willebrandts. “We saw that it was becoming increasingly difficult for her, and there was no way out,” he added.

The body of the deceased elephant was collected from the zoo by a freight team on Monday before the zoo opened. The cadaver was then transported to Utrecht University for an autopsy.

Diergaarde Blijdorp is now home to four elephants from Irma’s family line. Her daughter Bangka is currently the leader of the herd. “After saying goodbye, the elephants returned to normal, but they too will probably have to get used to the fact that she is no longer there,” the zoo noted.

https://nltimes.nl/2023/09/25/rotterdam-zoos-oldest-elephant-irma-dies-age-53 Rotterdam zoo’s oldest elephant, Irma, dies at age 53

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