Sue at Sacramento Zoo

† Sue
ID Number:   SSP Number: 209 - 
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Female ♀ 45 years old
Dead date: 1989-04-21
Death reason: euthanised: severe arthritis
Location:Sacramento Zoo
ArrivedSacramento Zoo 1948-11-15
from Catalina Wild Life Expeditions (Noel Rosefelt)
Catalina Wild Life Expeditions (Noel Rosefelt) 1948-11-15
from Sri Lanka National Zoological Gardens (Dehiwela Zoo)
Born:1944 wild Sri Lanka
Document updated2009-11-23: Previous locations, SSP, Birth, Death RE
2010-10-02: Previous locations, Death, Text, Source RE
In November 1948, Catalina Wild Life Expeditions, owned by Noel Rosefelt, imported a group of animals on the SS Swarthmore Victory including elephants, monkeys, bears, birds and pythons. Four days before landing, the cargo ship sent a distress call to the US Navy requesting food for the animals aboard. Eight four year old baby elephants were reported trying to "kick the ship to pieces." The Navy provided a plane to fly 1500 miles to parachute crates of worms for the birds and a bale of hay for each of the 800 pound elephants. According to Rosefelt, nine four feet tall elephants were boarded upon the ship before the journey. Three elephants died; two of them died at sea. Four of the elephants were headed for the Tom Packs Circus at New Orleans, one to the Sacramento Zoo and the sixth to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Sue arrived at the Sacramento Zoo in November 1948 and resided there until her death in April 1989. Her moniker was devised from an S for Sacramento, U for The Union newspaper that sponsored her purchase and E for elephant. Several elephants also resided at the zoo during her life there, but Sue spent the majority of her duration with an elephant named Winky, imported in May 1955. After Sue was euthanized in April 1989 by Dr. Murray Fowler due to severe arthritis, the Sacramento Zoo relocated Winky, their last elephant, to the Detroit Zoo and permanently closed the elephant exhibit.

Contradictory records:
A contradiction is found for the origins of the nine elephants imported in 1948. As reported in The Billboard, Rosefelt stated the animals and birds were collected in Siam to sell to zoos and circuses. However, a Wisoconsin area newspaper tells that Annie only understood Malayan commands upon arrival at the Henry Vilas Zoo. In addition, the North American Regional Studbook for the Asian Elephant describes that Sue originated from Sri Lanka; prior to her trip to America she resided at the Sri Lanka National Zoological Gardens. They list her birth around 1944.

Sources, among others

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