Woodland Park Zoo’s African elephant, 45-year-old Watoto, on display in Seattle for more than four decades, was euthanized Friday morning after zookeepers, arriving to work, found her collapsed in the exhibit yard.
Zookeepers discovered Watoto on the ground about 7 a.m. Friday in the south area of the Elephant Forest Exhibit. Attempts to lift her with cloth straps and heavy machinery failed.
Keepers and health staff made the “difficult decision” to euthanize the immobile Watoto, whose health quickly deteriorated, zoo officials reported.
A necropsy will be conducted to determine a possible cause of death. Results will be publicly released.
Watoto was plucked from the African wild at age 2 and brought to Seattle through an international animal exchange, which was a common practice at the time. Today, in most cases, U.S. zoos are prohibited from importing elephants from protected wildlife areas.
Two elephants remain at the zoo.