Ruby The Elephant Dies At 50

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Ruby the African elephant, who lived for 20 years at the Los Angeles Zoo before being sent to a San Andreas sanctuary in 2007 after years of lobbying by animal-rights activists, has died at age 50, zoo officials announced today.

Ruby died Tuesday, and a necropsy will be performed at UC Davis.

The elephant died about four years after being moved to the 2,300-acre Performing Animal Welfare Society Elephant Sanctuary, where she lived with three other African elephants.

“Ruby became the respected and beloved matriarch of the group of the next few years, and was often seen on top of the hill, ears flared, guarding her companions with the fierce determination of a wild elephant matriarch,” according to a statement from the zoo.

ruby2007 Ruby The Elephant Dies At 50

Ruby the Elephant frolics in 2007. (credit: Performing Animal Welfare Society)

“Everyone who worked with Ruby was mesmerized by her beautiful eyes and her gentle disposition. She will be missed by elephants, caregivers and her many fans who were privileged to share her life. At 50 years of age, Ruby was one of the oldest African elephants in captivity,” according to the zoo.

Ruby became a focal point of debate at the zoo over the housing of elephants, with animal rights activists pushing for her to be moved to a sanctuary. Bob Barker, a noted animal-rights activist and former host of “The Price is Right,” pledged $300,000 in matching funds to support Ruby’s care at the sanctuary.

Activists have continued to push city officials to close the elephant exhibit at the zoo, which recently underwent a $42 million renovation. The revamped exhibit, known as Elephants of Asia, opened in December.

The exhibit includes three Asian elephants: 25-year-old Billy and two elephants on loan from the San Diego Zoo — Tina, who is believed to be between 37 and 44 years old, and Jewel, believed to be between 42 and 47.

Ruby first arrived at the Los Angeles Zoo from Circus Vargas in 1987.

She gained worldwide attention in 2003, when the zoo separated her from an Asian elephant named Gita, her companion of 16 years, and sent her to a zoo in Knoxville, Tenn.

In Knoxville, Ruby didn’t get along well with the elephants residing there, prompting then-Mayor Jim Hahn to call for Ruby’s return. The zoo kept Ruby off public display since her return in 2004. Gita died in 2006.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. alan hart says:

    As much as I love elephants and enjoy seeing them, I realize that they are not an animal that can be kept in captivity. These creatures need to either be free in the wild or trained to perform tasks. They are too intelligent to be caged in small confines. In SE Asia, they are still used as work animals and they are actually better off mentally. I hope we as a culture grow and respect the animals enough to let them be animals and not showpieces.

  2. Roger Dodger The Body Massager says:

    Already?…….I just saw her on Dancing With The Stars just this past week! Oops sorry, wrong pachyderm.

    1. 49'er Flapjack says:

      LMAO!!!!!………I’m tellin’!!!!….I’m tellin’!!!!!

  3. JAMI TOLPIN says:

    I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF VISITING RUBY AT PAWS TWO WEEKS AGO. SHE WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ANIMAL WITH NOT A MEAN BONE IN HER BODY. I AM DEVESTATED BY HER DEATH AS I KNOW PAT AND ED AND ALL THE FOLKS AT PAWS ARE AS WELL. THE ONE SHINING LIGHT ABOUT HER LOSS IS THAT FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS SHE GOT TO FEIEL GRASS UNDER HER FEET, BE WITH OTHER ELEPHANTS AND ROAM FREELY IN A PLACE FILLED WITH LOVE. I HOPE OTHERS WILL REALIZE THE CRUELTY INVOLVED IN KEEPING ELEPHANTS IN CAPTIVITY AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. PLEASE VISIT PAWSWEB.ORG TO FIND OUT ABOUT A PLACE WHERE ELEPHANTS ARE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND ARE LEFT ALONE TO BE ELEPHANTS..ITS TOO BAD THAT THE PARADISE THAT IS PAWS COMES TOO LATE FOR MANY ELEPHANTS.

  4. Angel says:

    Jami, I am so glad that you got to see her. I am going to the sanctuary website thank you

    God bless Ruby and and her gentle heart

  5. angel says:

    Bless her, maybe she’s in the picture on the website too. The sanctuary website Pawsweb.org Wow!

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