PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Zoo hosted a memorial for the famous Asian elephant Packy, who was euthanized earlier this month.
Packy attracted millions of visitors to the Oregon Zoo for half a century before he died at age 54.
Elephant curator Bob Lee said it’s “tremendous” to see so many people at the zoo to honor Packy.
“To see folks come out and remember one of the most special elephants that we’ll ever know is inspiring,” Lee said.
Lee said “Packy started it all” and taught zoo keepers so much about elephant care, gestation and raising herds.
“Packy’s legacy is elephants being able to express natural behaviors in magnificent habitats,” Lee said. “That’s what we built into Elephant Lands, to allow them to do that and that’s the legacy that will continue.”
The memorial was also met with protests by people who disagree with zoos and the Oregon Zoo’s choice to euthanize Packy.
One woman there wants people to question whether elephants should be bred in captivity.
“Never having a chance to live like a real elephant, to walk on grass, to forage on trees, to chose who his friends are, to mate naturally in the wild,” said Courtney Scott. “He really had no chance.”
The famous elephant was born at the Oregon Zoo in 1962, the first Asian elephant to be born in captivity. Packy was the oldest male of his species in North American and one of the oldest in the world.
In 2013, Packy was diagnosed with Tuberculosis after routine tests found the disease in another elephant, Rama. Tusko was also eventually diagnosed and treated for TB. The other elephants responded successfully, although Tusko was euthanized for an unrelated health problem in 2015.
The memorial started at 10 a.m. and featured the Royal Rosarians, speakers and music.