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We’ll miss you, Kara – Chaffee Zoo favorite dies at age 40

Fresno zoo elephant Kara cools off in 2013

Kara, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, gets help cooling off on a hot day at Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2013. On June 7, 2017, Kara was euthanized because of declining health, the zoo announced.
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Kara, a 40-year-old Asian elephant, gets help cooling off on a hot day at Fresno Chaffee Zoo in 2013. On June 7, 2017, Kara was euthanized because of declining health, the zoo announced.

Kara the Asian elephant, a favorite at the Chaffee Zoo for decades, died Wednesday night.

Zoo officials said Kara was euthanized after suffering from chronic osteoarthritis. She was 40.

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Kara, shown in 2003 cooling off in her pool, had been at the Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, Calif., since 1983. Dan Casarez McClatchy file

Kara came to Chaffee in April 1983 from Cristiani Bros. Circus. She had been receiving care and attention for osteoarthritis issues for an extended period of time.

“Kara had a history of joint issues that resulted in her development of osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Shannon Nodolf, the zoo’s chief veterinary officer. “While this was an extremely difficult decision, after much discussion about Kara’s compromised quality of life, the veterinary and animal care teams unanimously agreed that humane euthanasia was the right thing to do.”

The zoo has another Asian elephant, Shaunzi, who is 46. The zoo also has three African elephants.

Zoo veterinary and animal care teams are working with pathologists to conduct a necropsy on Kara. Tissue samples and other parts of her remains will be analyzed for scientific study.

“I still remember the day I first met Kara,” said Amber Talley, lead elephant care staff member who has worked at the zoo for 15 years. “She was this funny little elephant who definitely had her own ideas and opinions about everything. She taught me that it’s not the size of the elephant in the room, but the size of the attitude in the elephant. I don’t know if it was because we were born in the same year, or that we both shared a stubborn side, but getting to know Kara for all that she was, was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever experienced. I am thankful for each and every day that I knew her. I know that no matter where life takes me, she will always be a huge part of what I’ve done for almost half of my life.”

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