The matriarch of Chester Zoo’s Asian elephant herd, Sheba, has died after a short illness.
Sheba, 56, has been at the zoo for 46 years and was the zoo’s oldest elephant. Affectionately known as Madam Sheba by the team who looked after her, she had been at the zoo longer than any other elephant.
Sheba had been ill for a short time and despite the best efforts of the keeping team and zoo’s veterinarians the decision was taken to euthanise her. She died on Wednesday afternoon.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, Director General of Chester Zoo, said: “The death of an animal is always hard, nevermore so than for everyone who has been involved in looking after it every day and Sheba’s death is a huge loss to all who cared for her.
“Sheba had a long and happy life with us; she had a strong personality – intelligent and sometimes stubborn - and she thought the elephant section belonged just to her. She was a good elephant with a will of her own. Sheba had a way with the other elephants too and was able to keep the others in line.
“I have no doubt the elephants will miss her too - Sheba adopted and raised our male Upali from when he first came to us, and they had a particularly close bond.
“Sheba will be missed by all of us here and the visitors with whom she was a particular favourite. This is a sad day for all concerned and I would like to thank all those who worked so hard to help her towards the end.”