(2-27-19) We had a successful procedure on Indu, the Zoo’s 53-year-old female Asian elephant yesterday morning.

Veterinary staff were able to pass an endoscope into the urinary bladder and confirmed a chronically inflamed urinary bladder. There were no obvious signs of cancer or urinary stones seen.

Some biopsies of the urinary bladder wall were obtained, and bacterial cultures were also collected.

Veterinary staff are already putting together a modified treatment plan based on the preliminary findings.

Indu is doing well and is receiving the usual TLC from her keepers!


(2-22-19) Indu, the Zoo’s 53-year-old female Asian elephant, will be undergoing a medical procedure in the coming days to attempt to identify the cause of urinary discomfort she has been experiencing.  

Due to the size of Indu, we can’t verify the exact cause of the discomfort until this procedure is performed.

This procedure has been carefully planned and discussed at length with those responsible for Indu’s care; including veterinary staff, keepers, Zoo President, Curators and outside specialists. The animal care team are hoping to get answers, and various treatment plans can be pursued based on the exploratory findings.

Indu is still currently in rotation on exhibit with the other two female elephants as usual.

We will report findings as they become available.

The Phoenix Zoo has been recognized world-wide for the high quality of care that is provided to our elephants. We have hosted elephant workshops where caretakers from all over the world come to learn from our keepers about husbandry; including showers, foot checks and trims, and any necessary medical attention. In fact, they are the only species at the Zoo who have their own dedicated staff which consists of five keepers and a manager. (Other trails have keepers who rotate with various animals.)

Here at the Zoo, we have three elderly female Asian elephants: Indu, Reba and Sheena, ages 53, 48 and 47 respectively. They were brought to this zoo from different facilities in hopes that they would learn to be a social group. The staff at the Zoo tried numerous times and various methods to get them to live harmoniously, but the elephants have shown us through their actions and reactions to each other that they would rather live singly. They still have the opportunity to socialize with each other, but it is done with a barrier in place. We rotate the elephants three times per day so that each elephant has her turn out in the larger exhibit.

Elephants in the wild are indeed social animals, but in the wild, all the members of the herd are related – mothers, daughters, cousins, aunts. Males stay with the herd until their early teens and are then pushed out of the herd where they either live singly or form small bachelor groups, only rejoining a herd for mating.

Recently, as part of the Zoo’s Capital Campaign, The Pride Campaign, construction began on an expanded elephant yard which will allow all three ladies to be on view at the same time and allows the Zoo to continue its ground-breaking work in the advancement of these magnificent pachyderms. This expansion project is expected to be complete later this year.

Dr. Gary West, DVM, Executive Vice President of Animal Health & Collection on Indu:

Dr. West on the Procedure:

Dr. West on Next Steps: