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Zoo says Chai the elephant died from teeth abnormalities

In this May 13, 2015 file photo, Chai, left, and Bamboo, right, two Asian elephants from Seattle, check out their new enclosure at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Chai, one of the two elephants that were at the center of a controversial move from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to Oklahoma City last year,  died July 30. Zoo records now show that Bamboo has been bitten by her new herd members. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)
In this May 13, 2015 file photo, Chai, left, and Bamboo, right, two Asian elephants from Seattle, check out their new enclosure at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Chai, one of the two elephants that were at the center of a controversial move from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo to Oklahoma City last year, died July 30. Zoo records now show that Bamboo has been bitten by her new herd members. (Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

SEATTLE – Oklahoma City officials say the death of an Asian elephant that was transferred from Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo was likely due to an abnormality in her teeth that prevented her from chewing food properly.

KCPQ-TV reported the 37-year-old elephant named Chai died Jan. 30, months after she was moved to the Oklahoma City Zoo in May 2015.

Zoo officials said in a news release Monday that the necropsy findings determined Chai “most likely” had a congenital abnormality on the surfaces of her molars that reduced her ability to extract caloric content from food.

Monday’s announcement comes after a Seattle-based advocacy group called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate Chai’s death over concerns that the Oklahoma City Zoo wasn’t equipped to care for the animal.


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