Meet Our Oregon Zoo Elephants

Elephants are some of the most intelligent and social beings on earth. They are also the world’s largest land mammals. In the wild, they can roam up to 30 miles a day. Matriarchal herds stay together for life. Bulls leave the mother at around age 14 and form bachelor herds and then return to the matriarchal herd to mate. None of these natural activities are possible for elephants in captivity. Their activity is so restricted and their living space so unnatural, that they suffer from lethal illnesses and conditions caused by their confinement. Bobbing heads, swaying  and pacing, seen in many of the Oregon Zoo elephants, are signs of extreme stress, depression and boredom.

“There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, an ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.”

-Peter Matthiessen
The Tree Where Man Was Born


PACKY, deceased

Packy was the largest and oldest elephant in the herd and weighed in at 12,500 pounds, though his weight fluctuated due to various issues, including reactions to drug treatments. He was born to Thonglaw and Belle, on April 14, 1962 at the Oregon Zoo and was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. Packy sired 7 calves, including Rama. Packy, due to some aggression issues that he exhibited towards the other elephants, spent most of his life alone at the zoo. In 2014, Packy became infected with TB and began treatment with TB drugs and was isolated in quarantine. In September of 2016, he was rediagnosed with an active strain of TB. The Zoo staff admitted they had no idea how to cure his disease and he remained in quarantine until he was zoothanized on Feb. 9, 2017.


RAMA, deceased

Rama was a male Asian elephant born on April 1, 1983 at the Oregon Zoo to Packy and Rosy. He was trained to do paintings using his trunk and these paintings were exhibited at the zoo. In 2013, Rama became infected with TB and was being treated with TB drugs and in quarantine. He was declared cured in 2015. In March of 2015, he was euthanized unexpectedly for what the zoo claimed to be complications due to a leg injury he sustained when he was young.



Rose-Tu is a 7,215-pound female Asian elephant. She was born on August 31, 1994 at the Oregon Zoo to Hugo and Me-Tu. Rose-Tu is the second smallest of the cows. Rose-Tu was severely beaten by her keeper when she was 5 years old, which may account for her aggression towards newborn Samudra. That keeper was fired and Rose-Tu gave birth to another baby, Lily in 2012.

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Chendra is a 4,545-pound female Asian elephant born in Sabah, Malaysia in 1993. She is the only Borneo pygmy elephant living in the U.S.  Malaysian wildlife officials found her wandering – orphaned, alone and hungry – near a palm oil plantation in Borneo. She had wounds on her front legs and left eye, which ultimately left her blind in that eye. Perhaps because she is a different species of Asian elephant, with the exception of baby Lily and previously Samudra, she is sometimes shunned by the others. She has been diagnosed with severe stereotypical behavior and has been seen walking in circles.



“Sam” is a 3,400-pound male Asian elephant born on Aug. 23, 2008 at the Oregon Zoo to Tusko and Rose-Tu. When he was born, Rose-Tu tried to trample him. Keepers rushed in and pulled him to safety.


TUSKO, deceased

Tusko was a 13,300-pound male wild-caught male Asian elephant born around 1971. He arrived at the Oregon Zoo on June 19, 2005 on a long term breeding loan with Have Trunk Will Travel, an elephant training company. Tusko had five offspring, two at the Oregon Zoo, Samudra and Lily.  He could  be identified by his very large head and the big ‘bulbs’ on his forehead. His tusks were removed due to infection and he was blind in his right eye, making it appear blue. Tusko contracted TB in 2014 but was declared cured of the disease in 2015. Tusko was euthanized on December 22, 2015, according to the zoo because he was suffering from a decades old leg injury. He, like Pet before him, had so much trouble with his feet and leg, that before he was put down, he leaned on his trunk to support his weight.



Lily is a female Asian elephant born at the Oregon Zoo on Nov. 30, 2012. She weighed 300 pounds at birth and Lily’s mother is Rose-Tu, her father is Tusko and her brother is Samudra. There was a huge public backlash against the zoo’s plans, when revealed through the media shortly after her birth, that she was under contract with Have Trunk Will Travel (HTWT) and would be given to that organization when weaned from her mother. The zoo renegotiated the contracts with HTWT and says that she will now stay at the zoo.



Sung-Surin “Shine” is a 7,900-pound female Asian elephant. She was born on December 26, 1982 at the Oregon Zoo to Packy and Pet. Sung-Surin means “sunshine” in Thai. She is distinguished by a slit in the lower margin of her right ear. In April, 2017, two months after Packy was euthanized, Shine came down with TB, the 4th elephant to contract the disease at the Oregon Zoo.

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