Former circus elephant collapses, is euthanized

01/13/2012 12:00 AM

01/18/2012 11:21 AM

Sabu, an Asian bull elephant who retired to a Northern California wildlife sanctuary 14 months ago from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, died Wednesday from complications of severe arthritis.

Sabu collapsed in his sleeping stall early Wednesday at ARK 2000 in San Andreas, which features natural habitats for elephants, lions, tigers and bears on 2,300 acres of property. Veterinarians ended the elephant's life after determining he would be unable to stand again because of weakness and pain in his joints, said an announcement from the nonprofit Performing Animal Welfare Society.

Sabu was born 30 years ago at the Portland Zoo, and two years later began performing in circuses, according to PAWS.

His arthritis was exceptionally severe for an animal his age, a necropsy found. The condition may have been caused or aggravated by the demands of performing, PAWS said.

PAWS cares for more than 100 animals, most of them retired from circuses and zoos, at three sanctuaries in Northern California.

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