Reba, beloved Asian elephant at Phoenix Zoo for two decades, dead at 51

Reba, beloved Asian elephant at Phoenix Zoo for two decades, dead at 51
Asian elephants are considered an endangered species. The Phoenix Zoo lost one of its longtime pachyderms this week, as Reba was euthanized. (Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Reba, an Asian elephant who lived at the Phoenix Zoo for more than two decades, was humanely euthanized earlier this week, zoo officials announced Thursday. She was 51.

Reba was euthanized after a “recent and irreversible decline in her health,” the zoo announced Thursday on its website. The beloved animal had been treated for inflammation and arthritis, but zoo officials said her keepers became concerned when Reba would not explore her habitat, KNXV reported.

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A camera, installed in Reba’s habitat, "showed her to be inactive and uncomfortable,” the zoo said on its website.

“Reba was known to be a tough elephant but once you got to know the true Reba, there were so many other beautiful sides to her. There will never be another like her,” elephant manager Heather Wright said in a statement on the zoo’s website.

It was the second big loss for the Phoenix Zoo in nearly four months. Makope, a reticulated, 14-year-old giraffe, died Dec. 19.

Reba arrived in Phoenix in 1999 from the Ringling Brothers Centers for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Florida, the zoo said. She was one of three elephants who lived at the zoo. Sheena, 48, and Indu, 54, also shared the habitat.

The zoo had one large habitat until last year, KNXV reported. The three elephants did not like to be in the same area, so they were rotated in and out of the habitat, the television station. The zoo expanded the elephants’ habitat, which essentially allowed all three pachyderms to have their own personal space.

Asian elephants are classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, KTVK reported.