“Nicky the Asian Elephant Mourned by The Elephant Sanctuary”

On March 9, 2023, Nichole made her way to us with a troubled past of chronic foot disease and osteomyelitis. Unfortunately, her situation became even more dire when she was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, and septic arthritis. These illnesses had a significant impact on her overall well-being and were further exacerbated by her advancing age, leading to a bleak outlook. Regrettably, because of the irreversible deterioration of her health and the unbearable pain she was experiencing, we had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Nichole on April 20, 2023.

Nicky, a female elephant, was born in Myanmar in 1975 and worked in Burmese timber camps. She was then imported to the United States in 1980 and became part of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey traveling circus. In 2016, she moved to San Antonio Zoo and joined two other female elephants known as the “Golden Girls.” After her two companions passed away, Nicky was transferred to The Sanctuary in Tennessee for herd and social opportunities. The Sanctuary made modifications to its facilities and care plan to ensure Nicky’s comfort and mobility due to her chronic health conditions. Despite their efforts, Nicky’s health rapidly declined, and she was humanely euthanized on April 20th, 2022. The Elephant Sanctuary team is committed to providing geriatric elephants with comfort and dignity. A necropsy performed by pathologists from the University of Georgia revealed that Nicky had severe foot disease, advanced degenerative joint disease, and a large abdominal tumor.

Kristy Eaker, the Senior Manager of Elephant Care at The Sanctuary, expressed deep sadness over the loss of Nichole. Despite her brief stay, Nichole had captured the hearts of everyone who knew her with her sweet and spirited nature. Kristy shared that Nichole loved basking in the sunshine, and on her last day, she spent time soaking up the warmth on the patio. Although the team was hopeful that she would recover, they take comfort knowing that she is finally at peace.
During her time at The Sanctuary, Nichole formed a close bond with her herd mates, Sissy and Nosey. She had a welcoming personality and was excited to socialize with others. When she met Sissy for the first time, Nichole reached out to her with her trunk, and Sissy allowed her to touch her before walking away. Staff observed Nichole and Sissy eating hay and produce together, communicating with each other through rumbling and trunk pops. Nosey also showed affection towards Nichole by reaching through the fence to greet her and spending hours relaxing beside her. Nichole seemed excited when Sissy and Nosey interacted and listened attentively with one ear out. The team hopes that the presence of her beloved companions brought Nichole comfort in her final days.
Janice Zeitlin, the CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to care for Nichole and witness her strength and resilience. She also thanked their professional colleagues who provided support and information to ensure Nichole received the best end-of-life care possible. The Sanctuary carries a heavy heart at the moment, but they will always cherish the memories and impact Nichole made during her stay.

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