Jewel, oldest Asian elephant at Los Angeles Zoo, is euthanized at 61

Jewel, oldest Asian elephant at Los Angeles Zoo, is euthanized at 61

The Los Angeles Zoo’s oldest Asian elephant, 61 years old, was euthanized this week, officials said Friday.

Jewel was in deteriorating health and had lived at the zoo near Griffith Park since 2010, according to a statement announcing her passing. Veterinarians and other staffers had been monitoring her “around the clock” since Sunday, officials said.

“In the end, we realized that her quality of life was continuing to decline despite our best efforts, and we had to make this very difficult decision to compassionately euthanize her,” Dr. Dominique Keller, the zoo’s chief veterinarian and director of animal health and wellness, said in the statement.

Jewel was once owned by Willie Davenport, a Texas man whose family was in the circus business. The then-24-year-old bought Jewel and another Asian elephant, Tina, from a retired elephant trainer for $150,000 in 2006, The Times reported in 2009. The two lived in Davenport’s barn with a third elephant, Boo, which had been in his family for four decades.

Regulators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service accused Davenport of failing to secure permits and mistreating the elephants, which were said to be dangerously thin. Allowed to keep one elephant, he chose Boo.

Jewel and Tina were taken to the San Diego Zoo, where Jewel underwent dental surgery and treatment for abscesses on her feet, before coming to Los Angeles in 2010.

Zoo officials described Tina, 57, as Jewel’s companion of 30 years. The zoo is also home to a 38-year-old bull Asian elephant, Billy, and a 51-year-old female, Shaunzi.

Asian elephants hail from southeast Asia, with India home to about 60% of the world’s wild population of about 40,000. Much of their natural habit has been destroyed, zoo officials said, and poachers hunt the endangered animals for their tusks.