Southeastern PA

Elmwood Park Zoo humanely euthanizes 2,000 pound bison

NORRISTOWN, Pa. - A 20-year-old male American bison was humanely euthanized Wednesday to end his suffering. 

The over 2,000 pound bison, named Tatonka or "Tonk", was a member of the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown. Park officials say he was suffering from osteoarthritis, and even though he'd been receiving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for a few years, they say his size and advanced age played a part in his deteriorating condition.

The zoo says a 'recent progression' caused the animal care staff to decide on humane euthanasia to spare Tatonka any further discomfort and pain. 

“Tonk is very loved and he will be greatly missed,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director. “He is one of the animals I’ve admired the most. As much as he’s big and powerful, he’s also gentle and graceful in ways you wouldn't expect.”

Tatonka arrived at Elmwood Park Zoo in 1998 when he was paired with a 1-year-old female bison, Dakota. The two produced two bison calves -- Wendy and Francis -- and lived together in the bison exhibit for nearly two decades. 

Park officials say although Tatonka may have seemed sluggish in the summer, he could be seen running through mounds of snow and enjoying the winter months. 

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