Dolly, the oldest elephant at the Denver Zoo, is dead at 52

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

On Friday, after a “severe decline” in her health, Dolly the elephant was euthanized.

The elephant had lived past the average life expectancy for her species, which is about 46. The zoo described her as the “sweetest and most trusting” animal.

Dolly became a full-time inhabitant of the zoo in 1990. It’s believed that she was born in the wild around 1964. After doing some detective work, zoo staff figured out that she probably grew up at Weed Park Zoo in Muscatine, Iowa. Later she traveled the country with an owner, who offered her up for rides.

Dolly’s talents included smashing bottles and putting them in recycling bins. Her ailments included arthritis and foot problems, which can be pretty awful when you weigh 7,100 pounds, as the Denver Post reported. (Here’s a really great story about animal hospice, too.)

You know, it sounds like a good day to go to the zoo. You’ll still find Asian elephants, with showtimes at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. The zoo will accept messages of condolence on its Facebook or in person at the Clayton F. Freiheit Elephant House.

As one mourner wrote: “I have fond memories or seeing her in all her wonder as a child. Dolly will forever be carried in my memory with all the wonder and excitement of a child.”