The Santa Barbara Zoo’s 48-year-old Asian elephant, Little Mac, was euthanized this week after a sharp decline in her health, zookeepers said.
The zoo said the pachyderm was euthanized Wednesday night in her exhibit yard, surrounded by keepers and staff after several days of what officials called hospice care for the elderly elephant.
Little Mac came to the zoo from India in 1972 with another female Asian elephant, Sujatha, who was euthanized last year.
Little Mac was named by Herb Peterson, the owner of several local McDonald’s restaurants who paid for the animals’ overseas flight. At the time, she was 1½ years old and an apparent orphan.
Zoo staff said her decline began in June with the onset of new medical issues in addition to other problems common in geriatric elephants.
Her death marks the end of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s elephant program.