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Last remaining elephant at Santa Barbara Zoo placed in hospice care

“After Mac is gone that will be the end of the elephant program,” said Richard Block.

Santa Barbara zoo president and CEO, Richard Block, says the days are numbered for their last remaining Asian Elephant known as Little Mac.

“She has a number of gastrula intestinal challenges that we have not been able to identify,” said Block. “She has lost appetite and has stopped eating, she moves more slowly, and dealing with arthritis”

Little Mac is 48 years old, arriving at the zoo back in 1972. She is the zoo’s only Asian elephant since the death of her companion 47-year-old Asian Elephant named Sujatha.

“Unfortunately back in June her health seemed to take a turn for the worse,” said Block.

According to Block, Little Mac is now receiving hospice care and trying to keep her comfortable. In the meantime, she is out, and about. She is giving her visitors a lasting memory.

“So right now people will come and see her walking around the yard and say well she seems like she is doing pretty well,” said Block. “The fact is those people who care for her day in and day out really can see the challenges, plus it is being masked pretty heavy by drugs.”

Block says the news has been devastating to the zoo staff.

“Oh, I can not even describe it,” said Block. “Right now this is really hard for staff to cope with.”

An Asian elephant is considered old around age 40. Little Mac exceeded the life expectancy for Asian elephants in human care. An era that will end at the Santa Barbara zoo after Mac leaves.

“This is it for elephants at the Santa Barbara Zoo,” said Block. “We can not meet the standards and requirements of the association of zoos and aquariums for what they expect for elephant exhibits now. So we are in the planning process now of trying to figure out what is next for this space.”

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