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Dallas Zoo elephant is euthanized

A 39-year-old female African elephant at the Dallas Zoo was euthanized Monday afternoon after days of a deteriorating gastrointestinal problem.

KeKe, who came to Dallas from the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler in 2003, had been ill for more than 10 days but had grown increasingly sicker over the last week. She was receiving round-the-clock care from keepers, and veterinarians consulted with experts around the country, including the Fort Worth Zoo.

However, she laid down Monday morning, and zoo officials were never able to get her back up with a crane and a harness.

"Once we could not get her on her feet, and she was unresponsive, it was obvious her condition had deteriorated," said Sean Greene, director of community relations. "It's a really sad day for the staff here. I feel safe in saying they put in a heroic effort to save her life."

KeKe had a habit of eating dirt and rocks, and at least once a year would get colic from her unapproved diet. What happened this time, though, they aren't sure yet.

A necropsy will be performed at the zoo to try to determine what the problem was.

"It's very difficult with an animal so large to do sonograms," Greene said. "You can't always tell what's going on internally."

The elephant exhibit area of the zoo will remain closed Tuesday. The zoo also has another African elephant cow named Jenny.

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