Fresno Chaffee Working To Establish Cause In Elephant Death

African elephant Bets (image courtesy of Fresno Chaffee Zoo)

FRESNO (KMJ) — Staff at Fresno Chaffee Zoo have started work to figure out why African elephant Bets passed away over the weekend.

The 11 year-old’s health declined rapidly following a wellness check on Friday, when she was described as having abnormal behavior. On Saturday, Bets’ health deteriorated further and she died Saturday evening.

“We consulted with zoo veterinarians around the country to devise our treatment plan,” said Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Shannon Nodolf. “Bets had staff with her to monitor and care for her. We did everything we could in a short amount of time.”

Bets arrived in Fresno in May 2015. In June 2017, zoo CEO Scott Barton shared with KMJ News plans to breed he during her stay in the African Adventure exhibit space. Barton described “exciting behavior” between her and Vus’Musi, which led staff to believe that a successful breeding could be coming in the future.

In a statement, Barton said that the zoo is extremely saddened by the elephant’s death.

“This is a great loss to Fresno Chaffee Zoo and our community. Our veterinary and animal care teams worked diligently to assist and treat her. I’m grateful to work with such passionate and talented people. The team continues to work to understand the underlying cause.”

Hear the report from KMJ’s Dominic McAndrew as it aired: