Toutoune the elephant dies at Granby Zoo

Toutoune, a 35-year-old elephant, has died of complications related to pneumonia at the Granby Zoo.
Toutoune, an African elephant, died from complications linked to pneumonia at the Granby Zoo. (CBC)

Animal rights activists are raising questions about the health of elephants kept in Canadian zoos following the death of Toutoune, a resident of the Granby Zoo.

Toutoune, a 35-year-old elephant, died of complications related to pneumonia on Sunday in the zoo located about 90 kilometres east of Montreal.

"The pneumonia had been there for one or two weeks" said veterinarian Marie-Josée Limoges. "We know that she had been in less good shape for a few months prior to that and that probably led her to being in a state where she was more fragile."

Zoocheck Canada, an animal protection charity group, said elephants are not meant to live in Canada.

The group has been trying to remove the large animals from the Toronto Zoo.

"Climate is a concern and it forces… many elephants to be kept indoors for long periods of time. That can lead to not only psychological problems, but foot problems, obesity and other physical issues," said Rob Laidlaw, Zoocheck's executive director.

The Granby Zoo disagrees and said elephants are very well cared for.

"What we require of our employees that work with these animals and the research that has been done really helps us to better understand these animals [and] better understand their needs," said the zoo's executive director, Joanne Lalumière.

The zoo could soon receive more elephants that will be housed with Sarah, who now wanders her enclosure alone.