Taronga Western Plains Zoo is deeply saddened to announce this morning’s passing of elderly African Elephant, Cuddles, the Zoo’s longest residing animal and the last African Elephant in Australia.
Cuddles, estimated to be 46 years of age, was a well known resident of the Zoo and much loved by staff, volunteers and visitors alike. We are all mourning the loss of this beautiful animal.
Cuddles arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo the year the Zoo opened, in December 1977, from the United Kingdom with two other female African Elephants Yum Yum and Cheri.
Keepers and veterinary staff had been monitoring Cuddles closely over the past week after she presented unwell. Following veterinary investigations Cuddles was treated for digestive health issues, with vets providing treatment and supportive medications to relieve pain and discomfort and promote food and drink intake. Despite every effort, Cuddles’ condition continued to gradually deteriorate and the heartbreaking decision was made to put her to sleep to prevent any further suffering.
Older elephants are susceptible to many aged related illnesses. The Zoo’s keepers and veterinary team had a special aged care program in place for Cuddles, which continues for the Zoo’s elderly Asian Elephants Burma and Gigi, to ensure on-going quality of life in their twilight years.
Cuddles was a gentle natured animal. She loved being the centre of attention and interacting with zoo keepers, and had even perfected the art of getting extra treats like banana and lucerne. She was dearly loved amongst our staff and volunteers who have worked alongside her over the years.
We are all struggling to come to terms with the loss of Cuddles. She will be greatly missed and her passing represents the end of an era for African Elephants in Australia. Cuddles will be buried in Zoo grounds.
Cuddles was an exceptional ambassador for African Elephants. She told the story of the threats that African Elephants face in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss.
Anyone thinking of sending a tribute to the Zoo is asked to consider, in lieu of flowers, making a donation in memory of Cuddles, and in support of all African elephants, to our partner in conservation Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya. Visit www.nrt-kenya.org