Packy the Elephant

The Oregon Zoo recently lost one of its most famous and beloved members -Packy the Elephant.  He died at age 54, euthanized after not recovering from TB.

From ABC News:

“Packy was 3 feet tall and weighed 226 pounds when he entered the world April 14, 1962, making headlines as the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. Eager to see the baby elephant, more than 1 million people visited the zoo in Portland that year, the first time it ever hit that mark.”

The zoo had an eleven page spread in Life Magazine, and became very famous.  Five more elephants were born at the zoo by 1966.

Packy later had seven offspring of his own.

Sadly, since 2013, there have been three elephants at the zoo who have died after contracting TB.

Zoo elephants do not live as long as elephants in the wild can.  Elephants free from captivity can live to be in their 70s.

National Geographic wrote about a study: “the team discovered that Asian elephants bred and born in captivity died earlier than those imported into zoos from the wild.”

The scientists could not pinpoint an exact reason why this was.  My hypothesis: young elephants in the wild have a more varied diet, more exercise, and live in larger familial communities than captive elephants.  Just like with humans, I believe the experiences of the early years can affect health in later life.


Video: Oregon Zoo



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