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Severe constipation kills 41-year-old elephant at Miami zoo

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Zoo officials said Maude started eating sand and clay, which is what elephants do in the wild to get minerals they need, but that turned out to be fatal for the animal who was brought to the zoo three years ago to be a companion to another female elephant. (Courtesy: Zoo Miami)

Maude, a 41-year-old Asian elephant at a popular zoo in Miami, has died from severe constipation, zoo officials say.

Zoo Miami officials said Maude died Wednesday. Zoo communications director Ron Magill told The Miami Herald that the elephant began behaving strangely last week and ultimately stopped eating and having bowel movements.

Magill said Maude started eating sand and clay, which is what elephants do in the wild to get minerals they need, but it turned out to be fatal for the animal who was brought to the zoo three years ago to be a companion to another female elephant. Zoo workers tried a number of treatments, he said.

Maude also suffered from arthritis making it difficult for her to move around and keep her digestive system active.

The elephant collapsed and died during a treatment session on Wednesday. A partial necropsy revealed her digestive system was packed with sand and clay.

"It was very abrupt, very traumatic for everyone," Magill told the newspaper. "Elephants are very charismatic, they're considered very intelligent animals. There's something magnificent about them."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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