Zookeepers mourn after discovering dead elephant in Oklahoma City

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Sunday, January 31, 2016
Elephant death
This is the second elephant death in just four months at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (KTRK) -- Zookeepers in Oklahoma City say they are heartbroken over the sudden death of a beloved Asian elephant.

The 37-year-old Chai was found dead in the elephant yard at the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Garden on Saturday.

Chai was at the center of a fight last May, when she was moved from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington to Oklahoma.

Animal rights advocates said Chai would be better off in a sanctuary in California, where the winters are not as harsh as those in Oklahoma City.

But, zoo officials say Chai's death has come as a complete shock.

"She was normal behaving yesterday," says official Tara Henson. "It's really hard for us. We think of these animals as part of our family."

A necropsy is set to be performed to determine Chai's cause of death.

She is the second elephant to die at the Oklahoma Zoo in the past four months.

A viral infection killed a four-year-old Asian elephant named Malee in October.

The rest of the elephant herm seems to be okay, according to zoo officials.