PORTLAND, Ore. — Beloved Oregon Zoo elephant Packy was euthanized after a long battle with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, zoo officials announced Thursday.

At nearly 55 years old, Packy was the oldest male Asian elephant in North America.

“We’d run out of options for treating him,” said the zoo's lead veterinarian Dr. Tim Storms. “The remaining treatments involved side effects that would have been very hard on Packy with no guarantee of success, plus a risk of creating further resistance. None of us felt it would be right to do that. But without treatment, his TB would have continued to get worse."

“This is a tremendous loss for the entire community,” added zoo director Don Moore. “Packy was one of the most famous animals in the world, but to the people who live here, the people who grew up with him, he was family.”

Packy's birth at the zoo on April 14, 1962 was featured in Life magazine and quickly gained worldwide attention.

His birth helped scientists better understand Asian elephants.

“These were completely uncharted waters,” Lee said. “Before Packy arrived in 1962, just one elephant had been born in any North American zoo — that one was born almost 100 years ago and only lived a for few weeks.”

Zoo spokesman Hova Najarian noted that Packy’s spirit is said to live on in the personality of his daughter Shine, and in the zoo’s state-of-the-art Elephant Lands habitat, which Packy helped inspire.

“Packy’s birth started it all,” Lee said. “The focus on elephant welfare, the knowledge about elephants. If you think about the time when he was born, it’s mind-boggling — Kennedy was president, the Beatles hadn’t made any records yet, cigarettes didn’t have warnings from the Surgeon General. We’ve learned so much about elephants since then, and it never could have happened without Packy.”

2012: Zoo celebrates Packy's 50th birthday

A memorial event for Packy will be announced as soon as plans are finalized. Until then, people can offer condolences or share favorite memories of him on the zoo’s Facebook page.

With great sadness, we said goodbye to Packy this morning. Packy, the oldest male Asian elephant in North America, was...

Posted by Oregon Zoo on Thursday, February 9, 2017

2015: Packy's health and habitat