Oakland Zoo Mourns Loss of African Elephant, M’Dunda, Age 50

Oakland Zoo
December 4, 2019
M'Dunda enjoying the pool at Oakland Zoo's 6.5 acre elephant habitat.
M'Dunda in center with herd mates, Lisa and Donna.

Oakland, CA – December 4, 2019… The eldest in Oakland Zoo’s African elephant herd, M’Dunda, age 50, died at approximately 2:45PM on Tuesday inside the Zoo’s 6.5 acre elephant habitat. 

Zookeepers found M’Dunda collapsed and immediately cleared other elephants from the habitat so they could safely enter and provide aid with the Zoo’s two veterinarians and supporting veterinary technicians. Dr. Joel Parrott, Oakland Zoo’s President and CEO, who is also a wildlife veterinarian, also rushed to the scene to aid M’Dunda. Upon approaching her it was clear she was already deceased.

Oakland Zoo animal keepers and staff are mourning this sudden loss. Recently celebrating her 50th birthday this past September, with a spread carefully assembled by her keepers of decorated enrichment and favorite treats, M’Dunda was the third oldest African elephant in an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) zoo. (The average median lifespan of African elephants in captivity is 17 years).

M’Dunda came to Oakland Zoo in 1993 from San Diego Zoo, and quickly built a reputation of having a very gentle and kind demeanor. She rumbled to communicate with her herd mates and keepers, and was often observed trunk twirling with Osh, the male of the herd.  

M’Dunda has been part of our Oakland Zoo family for 26 years. She was such a gentle being, and closely bonded with her keepers. We’ll miss her greatly,”said Dr. Joel Parrott, President & CEO of Oakland Zoo.


Oakland Zoo’s elephants are given daily examinations and treatments by animal keepers, including elephant ‘pedicures,’along with bi-weekly thorough exams by Zoo veterinarians that include foot soles inspections, blood work, and a check of all vitals. M'Dunda She showed no signs of existing medical issues, albeit her advanced age.

She was transported last evening the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for a necropsy and testing to determine the specific cause of death. 

Oakland Zoo has been a decades-long advocate for elephants, both in captivity and in the wild.  Supporting several elephant conservation partners in Africa including the long-standing Amboseli Trust for Elephants; and working with the Human Society of the United States and PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) sanctuary, Oakland Zoo worked to pass SB 1062 and SB 313, to ban the cruel use of bull hooks on elephants. 


Erin Harrison

Oakland Zoo — Conservation Society of California






Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850+ native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); anon-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.