LOS ANGELES : Death of Zoo Elephant Linked to Heart Disease

Hannibal, a five-ton, 16-year-old African bull elephant that died in a shipping crate March 20, was found to have had heart disease, the Los Angeles Zoo said.

Hannibal had myocardial fibrosis, which could have combined with an awkward kneeling position to cause death, according to a necropsy report released Thursday.

The elephant knelt down in the crate as he was being prepared for shipment to a zoo in Mexico. Handlers were unable to get Hannibal to stand up and he died after spending a night in that position.

"The way that we attempted to move him then, that is the way we would have to do it again," zoo Director Mark Goldstein said. "We find no fault in looking back at it.

"There was no abuse, no mishandling," Goldstein said.

"We still lost a magnificent animal," he said. "But the final necropsy at least gives more sense to this tragic loss." The necropsy was conducted the day of Hannibal's death. The report was issued by the county Department of Health Services' Comparative Medical and Veterinary Services.

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