Terribly sad news.
Thi Hi Way, Chester Zoo’s beloved Asian elephant who was also the longtime matriarch of their Elephant family, has sadly passed away following a period of end-of-life intensive care. The zoo were forced to make the difficult decision to put Thi down after years of suffering from arthritis, which eventually led to a decline in the elephant’s condition.
Speaking of the tragic loss to the zoo, Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants at Chester Zoo said: “This is a truly heart-breaking day. Generations of zoo visitors and the vast majority of our staff have never known a Chester Zoo without great grandmother elephant, Thi Hi Way. She was deeply loved and will be enormously missed. Thi was a giant within the global conservation community.
Adding: “Thi had a big personality. She was a real ambassador for her species and, in many ways, a pioneer. A great deal of what conservationists know about Asian elephant biology and behaviour and the way that these remarkable animals live and reproduce has been learnt from Thi and her offspring. She has greatly enhanced our collective knowledge of this wonderful species and leaves an extraordinary legacy, one which has benefitted, and will continue to benefit, Asian elephants everywhere.”
Thi moved to Chester Zoo way back in 1991, and birthed a number of calves during her time there – helping with a huge conservational effort to prevent her species from going extinct. Threatened by habitat loss, poaching, disease and direct conflict with humans, just 40,000 Asian elephants are estimated to remain and their numbers continue to decline – so Thi played an integral role in the protection of her species.
Thi Hi Way’s family will now enter a grieving period for their loss before their natural instincts kick in helping them to move on quickly without her. Chester Zoo’s statement closes: “Thi and her offspring have been key to the important scientific advancements which Chester Zoo has led in its search for a cure to EEHV, a deadly virus which affects Asian elephants.”