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October 7, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Woodland Park Zoo elephant died because it couldn’t stand

Watoto walks out into the Woodland Park Zoo elephant enclosure after having been in the Elephant barn getting a bath. (Seattle TImes, file)

Watoto walks out into the Woodland Park Zoo elephant enclosure after getting a bath. (Steve Ringman / Seattle Times, file)

A 45-year-old elephant with arthritic legs died at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo because it went down and couldn’t get up.

The zoo said Tuesday the necropsy on Watoto found chronic, age-related arthritis in the leg joints. The female African elephant that died in August had no life-threatening problems with its heart or infectious diseases such as the herpes virus.

The zoo’s director of animal health, Darin Collins, says the elephant either fell or laid down and was unable to stand back up. When lying down, the elephant’s weight restricts breathing and blood flow to vital organs.

More: Glamour beasts: The dark side of elephant captivity

Comments | More in Environment, General news | Topics: elephant, Watoto

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