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Longtime Santa Barbara Zoo elephant dies

Posted at 9:12 AM, Oct 17, 2018

The Santa Barbara Zoo announced Wednesday the death of one of its elephants.

Over the past few years, Sujatha had been experiencing complications related to old age, zoo officials announced in a press release.

In recent weeks, staff had been assessing her quality of life and an elephant welfare expert was brought in from the San Diego Zoo to assess her condition.

Dr. Julie Barnes, Director of Animal Care and Health at the Santa Barbara Zoo said, “Though it was a difficult decision, her behavior and condition told us that it was time to say goodbye.”

Sujatha, left, and Little Mae at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Photo: SB Zoo)
Sujatha, left, and Little Mac at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Photo: SB Zoo)


The 47-year-old elephant was euthanized Tuesday night, officials said, adding that the other elephant at the zoo, Little Mac, was given access to Sujatha in order to grieve.

“Sujatha and Little Mac have been ambassadors for Asian elephants in Santa Barbara for 46 years,” Zoo CEO Rich Block said in a press release. “Children who first met them in the 1970s have brought their own children, and some even their grandchildren, to meet these wonderful creatures. They have been loved and cared for by numerous keepers and staff over the years. We are grateful to Sujatha and Little Mac for how they have enriched all our lives.”

Staff and outside elephant experts are assessing whether Little Mac will remain at the zoo or be moved.

“At the very least, Little Mac will remain at the zoo until she is trained to comfortably enter a transport crate for relocation to join a heard elsewhere,” zoo officials said.

Both elephants were brought to the zoo in July of 1972 from India when they were just 1.5-years-old and stood less than four feet high, according to zoo staff.

The median life expectancy in U.S. zoos for Asian elephants is reportedly 46.9 years.

For information on making a donation in Sujatha’s memory, click here.

Sujatha's Passing

It is with broken hearts that we announce the passing of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s 47-year-old Asian elephant, Sujatha.“Sujatha has delighted generations of families who met her and inspired countless numbers of individuals to care more about the world around them. She played an incredible role as an ambassador for her species, promoting awareness of the decline of her wild counterparts and just how vital it is that we protect them.” –Rich Block, CEO, Santa Barbara ZooFor Rich’s full letter and for more information, visit

Posted by Santa Barbara Zoo on Wednesday, October 17, 2018