The surviving elephant at the Santa Barbara Zoo is said to be “coping exceptionally well” following the death of her companion last week.
Staff have been keeping a close eye on Little Mac since Sujatha’s passing.
Little Mac has been enjoying some pool time, is eating lots of snacks and treats, and interacting with her keepers as normal, according to zoo staff, who say overall, she’s “showing very encouraging behaviors.”
Following the death of the 47-year-old elephant, the zoo said staff and outside elephant experts would be assessing whether Little Mac would remain at the zoo or be moved.
The pair had been together at the Santa Barbara Zoo since 1972. At 1.5 years old, the zoo says Sujatha at the time was born to a working mother in an Indian logging camp and Little Mac was discovered apparently orphaned nearby.
Sujatha had reportedly been experiencing complications related to old age and was euthanized last week after zoo staff said her quality of life had deteriorated to the point they knew it was time to say goodbye.
Little Mac was given access to Sujatha in order to grieve, staff said, adding that “Elephants grieving for fellow herd members has been observed both in the wild and under human care.”
The median life expectancy in U.S. zoos for Asian elephants is said to be 46.9 years.