RIP: Annie the elephant at PAWS sanctuary near San Andreas

Annie the elephant
Annie the elephant PAWS

Annie, said to be one of the oldest Asian elephants in North America, has died at the PAWS sanctuary in the foothills near San Andreas, Calaveras County.

The 55-year-old elephant came to the ARK 2000 wildlife sanctuary from a Wisconsin zoo where she spent much of her life chained to a concrete floor, according to press release from the Performing Animal Welfare Society.

A video in 1994 showed her held by ropes and chains as handlers maneuvered her during an instruction video for other trainers. The zoo opted to allow PAWS to take custody of Annie in 1995.

There, she enjoyed the remainder of her life with other elephants in a sprawling foothill habitat, free to roam grassy hills and play in a pond.

In 2012, Annie tested positive for tuberculosis, but never showed signs of the disease, according to PAWS. Her arthritis and foot disease – leading causes of death for elephants in captivity – had progressed but her general condition was good.

Ultimately, the arthritis and foot problems made movement too painful for Annie. When medications and treatment could no longer relieve the pain in her chronically infected feet, the decision was made to euthanize her on Tuesday.

“She was a very special elephant,” said PAWS president Ed Stewart. “I'm proud we were able to give her a peaceful and more natural life at the PAWS sanctuary for nearly 20 years.”

According to Stewart, zoos are moving away from displaying elephants.

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.