The Oregon Zoo’s most famous resident, Packy the elephant, was euthanized Thursday. He was 54.
Packy had suffered from a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Zoo veterinarians said they had run out of options to treat him. He was the oldest male of his species in North America, the Zoo said.
“The remaining treatments involved side effects that would have been very hard on Packy with no guarantee of success, plus a risk of creating further resistance,” the Zoo’s lead veterinarian, Dr. Tim Storms, said via a press release Thursday.
“We loved Packy so much,” said Bob Lee. Lee oversees the Zoo’s elephant program and worked with Packy for the past 17 years. “He was my favorite — the most impressive animal I’ve ever known. It’s hard to think about coming in to work tomorrow and not seeing him. There will never be another like him.”
Packy’s birth 54 years ago was marked by international headlines, including an 11-page spread in Life Magazine. He was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in almost half a century.
The Zoo noted that Packy’s birth, and the births of other Asian elephants that followed, helped scientists better understand the species.
Packy wasn’t just famous among Portland’s animal lovers, the elephant inspired books, records and Rose Parade floats.
Plans for a memorial event for Packy are being finalized, but the Zoo has invited people to share condolences and favorite memories on their Facebook page.