HOHENWALD, Tenn. (WATE) — Jana the African elephant was euthanized when her health rapidly declined in the days following a fall that left her unable to get up, according to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Jana arrived at the sanctuary from Zoo Knoxville earlier this year.
The Elephant Sanctuary shared the news of Jana’s passing on Wednesday, saying she fell on Monday, October 16, and was unable to get up. Although she received immediate care from the sanctuary’s emergency response team, who helped her stand, she began showing more weakness and less interest in essential activities.
Over the next few days, teams at the sanctuary attempted to help Jana, but on Friday, her health rapidly declined, and the sanctuary, in consultation with Zoo Knoxville and other professionals, decided to humanely euthanize her. The sanctuary said she passed away peacefully just after 2:50 a.m., surrounded by her caregivers.
Jana was 43 years old.
Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New said the zoo was heartbroken over Jana’s passing.
“Jana was intelligent, spirited, and confident and we feel very fortunate to have the privilege of knowing her during her years at Zoo Knoxville. She spent her last months just as we hoped, exploring the hills and forests in Hohenwald, swimming in the water holes, and making a new friend with Nosey. While we are heartbroken at her loss, we are comforted that she left this world surrounded by people who loved and cared for her as we did,” New said.
In her final days, Nosey, another elephant at the sanctuary, was seen being “supportive of Jana, standing quietly by her side and offering her gentle touches, the sanctuary said. After Jana’s passing, Nosey remained close and was given access to Jana until her burial.
According to social media posts by the sanctuary, Jana was first allowed to interact directly without fence lines for the first time around the beginning of October.
“We are devastated by the loss of Jana,” says Janice Zeitlin, The Sanctuary’s CEO. “At The Sanctuary, we are committed to providing individualized care for aging elephants — their comfort and well-being is always of primary importance. End of life care comes with challenges, loss, and heartbreak. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Sanctuary Staff, Zoo Knoxville, and all those who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to providing Jana compassion and care.”
Jana was the first of three Zoo Knoxville elephants to retire to The Elephant Sanctuary in May. The sanctuary, located in Hohenwald, Tennessee, offers elephants who have retired from zoos and circuses a 3000-acre refuge. There, Jana joined the herd of 10 geriatric-age elephants.
The Sanctuary recounted that Jana spent her early years at the Louisville Zoo in Louisville, Kentucky before she moved to Zoo Knoxville in 1998.