ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – There will no longer be elephants at Grant’s Farm in south St. Louis County. This comes after officials revealed a third elephant there died in just over two weeks.
And that’s on top of another elephant death at the farm in March.
Farm officials called all of the recent elephant deaths sudden and unexpected.
They aren’t the only ones stunned about what has happened.
“We’re devastated to have lost our elephants and we’re devastated for the elephant staff, we’re devastated for the community of St. Louis. It’s just a really difficult time right now,” said Julia Mize, vice president of Grant’s Farm.
Max, a 15-year-old African elephant, died Wednesday. He’d been at Grant’s Farm since January 2013.
Farm officials said all of Max’s tests recently came back normal. But they said that, as a herd animal, Max was greatly affected by the recent deaths of two other elephants –Toby and Mickey.
Toby was 38 and died on November 30; Mickey was 34 and died December 2. Tests before their deaths raised no red flags as well.
And back in March, 34-year-old Bud, another elephant at Grant’s Farm, also passed away.
While Bud died of a respiratory infection, a cause of death hasn’t been released for Max, Toby, or Mickey.
Mize said care was not a problem.
“There’s nothing that’s going on wrong at Grant`s Farm. We have the best animal staff taking care of our animals,” she said.
Toby and Max both came to Grant’s Farm from Riddle`s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary in Arkansas at the same time in January 2013.
The co-owner there, Heidi Riddle, said she’s not placing blame on Grant’s Farm but did call the deaths unusual.
“It is very shocking, surprising and, yeah, I guess also a bit disappointing that we did not hear directly from the facility to let us know,” Riddle said.
Riddle said a normal life span for African elephants can be around 40 to 50 years.
She’s calling on Grant’s Farm to be transparent with information about the deaths.
Grant’s Farm said it will release details from the necropsies but that could take months. A farm spokesperson also said Mickey had been dealing with a brain tumor for several years but that it had been stabilized.
Mize said the farm is planning a tribute for the elephants when Grant’s Farm reopens in the spring.
At this point, officials at the farm do not believe any of the deaths are connected.