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Former Detroit Zoo elephant dies

Wanda, 57, had been living in Californian sanctuary

ROYAL OAK, Mich.An elephant who once called the Detroit Zoo home has passed away.

The zoo on Thursday said the decision was made this week to humanely end Wanda the elephant's life after she suffered complications from chronic foot problems and severe arthritis. The elephant was 57.

Wanda and another elephant, Winky, were moved in 2005 from Michigan to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif. During their time at the sanctuary, the elephants enjoyed dozens of acres of land, California sunshine, heated stalls and therapeutic Jacuzzis, according to the zoo.

--Wanda and Winky, courtesy the Detroit Zoo

The elephants had been at the Detroit Zoo for about a decade before being moved to the PAWS sanctuary.

Winky was euthanized in 2008 at the age of 56 due to complications from severe arthritis.

"We knew this day was coming, but we are all sad," said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan. "We can never thank the staff at PAWS enough for giving these two lovely beings such excellent care and many great years."

The zoo said it was the first zoo in the country to decide solely on ethical grounds to no longer keep elephants.
"Wanda's death, while very sad, will hopefully continue the conversation about how zoos can play a significant role in reshaping public attitudes and values toward the humane treatment of animals," said Kagan. "This is the end of a chapter, but not the end of the story."