The Oregon Zoo Just Killed Packy, the Beloved Elephant

The Oregon Zoo has drawn its share of criticism over the years as one of the worst zoos for elephants, and now it’s back in the spotlight for killing Packy, a beloved 54-year-old Asian elephant.

Packy, who was born at the Oregon Zoo in 1962, was the oldest bull elephant in captivity in North America. While there had been ongoing debate about whether he should stay at the zoo or be moved to a sanctuary, both sides came together with the common goal of keeping him alive. An elephant keeper and another zoo employee, who are calling themselves “Team Packy,” came forward to expose plans being made by zoo and city officials behind closed doors to kill him.

Packy was unfortunately diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in 2013. Despite this, his caretakers and the zoo continued to assert he was in otherwise good health and not suffering as a result. According to Team Packy, “Packy has never shown any signs or symptoms of the TB infection. He is showing no signs of pain or discomfort. He is active, playful and engaged with keeper staff every day.”

Team Packy’s efforts to raise awareness about the situation and save his life were supported by organizations including In Defense of Animals (IDA) and Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants, who despite their differing opinions on elephant captivity, believed he deserved to live and be cared for until he was no longer healthy or comfortable.

Now they’re reacting to the heartbreaking news that Packy has been killed. The zoo said in a statement that they had run out of treatment options and “humanely euthanized” him, but his advocates aren’t buying the justification, and are calling it anything but euthanasia.

“I am sickened by the despicable actions of Oregon Zoo, which has not ‘euthanised’ but ‘zoothanised’ Packy,” said Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Elephant Scientist for IDA. “The Zoo admitted that Packy was not suffering, so ‘euthanasia’ is a flat-out lie. Packy wanted to live and the people who raised him and whom he trusted murdered him. In Defense of Animals is demanding that the Oregon Zoo show some accountability and immediately produce Packy’s clinical veterinary records as well. In the meantime, the Zoo has no right to attempt to whitewash this murder as ‘euthanasia.’”

Sadly, it’s a common practice for zoos to kill surplus, or unwanted animals, which has become known as zoothanasia. Some of them, like Marius the giraffe, make headlines, but others are killed quietly out of sight. Packy’s death has inspired Dr. Marc Bekoff, who coined the term zoothanasia, and IDA to declare February 9 as World Zoothanasia Day in honor of his life and the lives all the other unwanted animals who are regularly killed by zoos. Packy’s advocates are also calling on the Oregon Zoo to release the other elephants in its care to a sanctuary.

“We are devastated by the horrific news that Oregon Zoo has murdered Packy,” said IDA President, Dr. Marilyn Kroplick. “Oregon Zoo brought Packy into the world and profited from him for decades. He was not suffering, and risk management plans were working, yet they killed him anyway. This is a truly sickening betrayal of a highly self-aware and conscious individual. We demand that the five remaining elephants at Oregon Zoo are freed and retired to a sanctuary where they can receive genuine care and respect.”


Please help get some justice for Packy by signing and sharing the petition asking the Oregon Zoo to send its five remaining elephants to a sanctuary.

For more on how to help, check out In Defense of Animals and Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants.

Photo credit: Friends of Oregon Zoo Elephants/IDA


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for posting

Melania P
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Why are these places still open? And they call themselves a civilized country? Shame!!

Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrie2 years ago

This is outright murder by the Oregon zoo. The zoo must be closed immediately and all its animals residents sent to a proper sanctuary. Zoos are a thing of the past. It has no relevance in the 21st century. This is outrageous!

Judy t
Judy thorpe2 years ago

They no longer had any use for Packy when a young 4 yr old bull elephant replaced him. Out of respect, the zoo should had retired him to a sanctuary so he could had experienced freedom which he never had. How sad that he had lived his whole life in a zoo. I signed many petitions to retire him to a sanctuary I am so disappointed Packy didn't make it. WE ARE NOW IN THE MODERN ERA AND ELEPHANT ABUSE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!!

Angela K
Angela K2 years ago

RIP beautiful Packy- your soul is free now !!!
I have signed the petition for Elephant Chendra !

Shame on you Oregon Zoo !!!!

Leo C
Leo Custer2 years ago

Thank you for posting

Jess B
Jess B2 years ago

Who knows what really happened. Zoo's are just a disgrace all around. Rip Packy

iveta NoFwdsPls c
Iveta C2 years ago

that's terrible !!!!! Sickos , murderers !!!!!! RIP sweet Packy :((((

Karen K
Karen K2 years ago

Packy was much beloved. They made a separate enclosure and outdoor area for Packy so the other elephants wouldn't get the TB. They had been treating Packy since 2013, but Packy developed a resistant form of the TB only susceptible to isoniazid. When Packy took the medicine, the side effect was he stopped eating. So they did try but ran out of medicine he could tolerate to fight the TB. I have some ambivalence about zoos, the good and bad aspects. But they did love Packy. They are mourning and people are writing cards to Packy.

Georgina E M

IF Oregon Zoo has such a bad reputation.....Why hasn't it been closed?