November 20, 2018

11:15 am

Goodbye, Maxine

Earlier this month, Moving Giants published a feature (“Too Big, Too Smart”), about an ironically named Bronx Zoo elephant, Happy, who has been isolated at the zoo’s Elephant House for a number of years.

Happy, 47, was not the only elephant living in New York's northernmost borough — Maxine and Patty, both 48, also resided at the Bronx Zoo — but they had isolated Happy for her own protection.

Today, though, the Bronx Zoo announced that Maxine has been euthanized.

In a statement, Jim Breheny, Director of the Bronx Zoo and EVP of Zoos & Aquarium at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said “Everyone at the Bronx Zoo is deeply saddened by the loss of Maxine. Some of us have known and worked with her for over 40 years as she came to the zoo in 1973. We have great memories of Maxine; she was a wonderful animal with a great personality. She was loved by those who cared for her each day as well as the millions of visitors she inspired in over four decades at the Bronx Zoo. This was a really difficult day for all of us at the zoo. Caring for animals is a great privilege and a great responsibility; we made a commitment to provide the best care for Maxine 45 years ago and today we met our final obligation to her."

“After exhausting all options to treat Maxine and since she was no longer able to eat, we made the decision to euthanize her. She died a peaceful death, surrounded by the keepers, curators and veterinarians who had cared for her throughout her life. And afterwards, we gave Patty, who had lived with Max since they both arrived at the Bronx Zoo, the chance to spend time with her and understand what had happened to her friend."

In the Moving Giants “Too Big, Too Smart” feature, we noted that the nonprofit group Nonhuman Rights Project had filed a legal action against the zoo on Happy’s behalf, protesting her isolated status. The zoo has also come under criticism for housing elephants at all, considering the animals are suited for tropical or savanna climate conditions, not those of what can be unforgivingly cold in New York.

In the statement it released today on Maxine, the Bronx Zoo further noted that, “With the death of Maxine, we will assess our elephant program. The plan we develop for our elephants moving forward will be based on our expertise in elephant behavior and husbandry, veterinary evaluation — and, most of all, on an intimate, in-depth understanding of our individual animals and their needs.”