Cause of death still unknown in case of Sedgwick County elephant

Cinda the elephant died Nov. 5 at the Sedgwick County Zoo.
Cinda the elephant died Nov. 5 at the Sedgwick County Zoo. File photo

Tests still are under way to determine what caused the death of 43-year-old Cinda, a South African elephant who had lived at the Sedgwick County Zoo most of her life.

Cinda, one of the zoo’s iconic animals, died Nov. 5. Zookeepers found her companion, Stephanie, trying to nudge her awake that morning.

Cinda and Stephanie had lived together since arriving at the zoo in 1972, the year after it opened.

Cinda had not been sick, though she had suffered from edema in the summer.

Zoo spokeswoman Melissa Graham said last week that William Bryant, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, thought it would be a few more weeks before test results would be available.

“Tissue samples and chemical tests are still being analyzed,” she said.

Three veterinarians performed a necropsy — the animal version of an autopsy — on the 8,400-pound elephant.

Her death came as the zoo is raising money for a new elephant exhibit expected to open Memorial Day weekend in 2016. The Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit will be the zoo’s most expensive endeavor at $10.5 million.

Sedgwick County agreed to give the zoo $5.3 million toward the exhibit, and the Sedgwick County Zoological Society is responsible for the rest. The zoo is trying to raise a remaining $900,000.

“We are gaining on it,” Graham said. “Several substantial proposals are currently being considered, and we feel positive about them.”

Zoo visitors have asked about how to honor Cinda, and some have given donations toward the “E is for Elephants & So Am I” campaign.

Donations may be made by visiting the zoo’s website, www.scz.org and clicking on the “E is for Elephants & So Am I” icon. Donations by phone may be made by calling 316-266-8211. In person, donations by cash or credit card may be made at the zoo’s membership office.

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