Remembering Rosie and Hadari
Animal Stories from


The Elephant Sanctuary
January 2017

With great sadness, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee announces the unexpected deaths of African elephants Rosie and Hadari over the weekend.

Both Rosie and Hadari flourished in their time at The Sanctuary, enjoying the space and richness of the environment in the company of other elephants, Sukari, Tange, and Flora.

rosie elephant
Rosie was born wild in Africa in 1969. Captured and imported to the United States in 1971, Rosie changed owners several times before arriving at the Jackson Zoo in Jackson, Mississippi in 1977. Juno, another African female elephant, joined her there in 1982. Rosie and Juno lived together at the Jackson Zoo until 2010, when they were transferred to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. At the Nashville Zoo, they joined African elephants Hadari and Sukari. Juno died in the spring of 2015. Hadari retired to The Sanctuary in September of same year.

hadari elephant
Born in 1980, Hadari was captured and imported to the United States when she was a year old. She spent 14 years at Jungle Larry’s African Safari in Cedar Point, Florida and was then moved to the Nashville Zoo in 1995. Hadari spent 20 years at the Nashville Zoo, before retiring to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee on September 24, 2015. Rosie and Sukari, who also lived at the Nashville Zoo, joined her in November the same year.

At 46-years-old, Rosie was the African elephant requiring the most care and attention due to several chronic health conditions. In early December, Rosie began exhibiting signs of increasing discomfort. Veterinary and Husbandry Staff made adjustments to Rosie’s care. Radiographs revealed progressive foot infection necessitating surgical intervention. On December 16, a five-person veterinary team led by Dr. Ed Ramsey from the University of Tennessee assisted The Sanctuary's Veterinary and Husbandry teams in a veterinary procedure to treat areas associated with progressive, chronic foot disease. The procedure and recovery went well and over the next weeks, staff noted Rosie’s full cooperation in her care and treatments and overall improved comfort.

On Thursday, December 29, Rosie fell and could not get up on her own. Care Staff were able to assist her to stand. She was continually monitored by Veterinary and Husbandry Staff who noted a visible decline in overall health and her ability to remain standing, even with assistance. Due to decreasing quality of life, the decision was made to humanely euthanize. Rosie passed peacefully on Saturday, December 31, 2016 surrounded by those who loved her. Sukari and Tange were nearby and given an opportunity to visit her body. The Sanctuary is honored to have had the opportunity to give Rosie her final home during her time with us.

Dr. Rita McManaman, University of Georgia's Director of Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service, and staff led the necropsy team. “Preliminary findings in Rosie’s necropsy indicate her rapid decline was due to complications of chronic bone and joint disease with acute complications limiting her ability to stand and walk,” said Dr. Steve Scott, DVM, Director of Veterinary Care at The Elephant Sanctuary. “Unfortunately, these are serious and irreversible diseases commonly seen among elephants in captivity.”

Tragically, in an unrelated event on Monday morning, January 2, 36-year-old African elephant Hadari passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. She was found by Care Staff in a favorite area of the habitat, there were no visible signs of distress or injury. Hadari was known to be in good health, making full use of The Sanctuary this year, traveling throughout the habitat, knocking down trees, and sharing space with other elephants.

Dr. McManaman and staff from University of Georgia returned to lead the necropsy. They were joined by Dr. Andrew Cushing from University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. Heather Robertson, Director of Veterinary Services at the Nashville Zoo. Dr. Steve Scott and Dr. Lydia Young completed the team. Preliminary findings indicate cardiac arrest. A full report should be available in three to four months.

It is The Elephant Sanctuary's policy to perform necropsies on all deceased elephants to gain knowledge that will benefit the entire elephant care community.

Rosie and Hadari were loved by all and their absence is deeply felt. We will continue to honor and celebrate their remarkable lives and the impact they had on the entire Sanctuary family, elephants and staff alike.

"The Sanctuary's staff is devastated by the loss of these two magnificent elephants, both of whom have shown incredible social, psychological, and physical growth in the past year at The Sanctuary," said The Elephant Sanctuary CEO Janice Zeitlin. "Our grief is shared with their loving keepers, friends, and family at the Nashville Zoo who assisted, supported, and celebrated their transition and progress into retirement."

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