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El Paso Zoo holds memorial event for beloved elephant Juno

El PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Zoo hosted a memorial event Saturday for its beloved Asian elephant Juno, who died of breast cancer last month.

At Saturday's memorial, zoo visitors had an opportunity to share written messages outside of the elephant exhibit throughout the day that will be given to Juno’s care team.

(A little boy writes a message to Juno on a heart-shaped post card that will be given to Juno's zoo keepers.)

In addition, zoo visitors were asked to wear pink in Juno's memory.

“Juno was a great elephant and wonderful representative of her species,” said El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano. “She had the best sense of humor out of any elephant I have ever met. She will be missed by the animal care team, our guests and everyone whose life she touched with her gentle soul.”

Pink ribbons and commemorative cards with a picture of Juno and fun facts were given out to visitors upon entering the zoo.

The El Paso Zoo made special pink shirts, worn by its staff, that were also available for purchase for visitors.

(Zoo staff stands outside the El Paso Zoo selling special Juno T-shirts.)

The 53-year-old Juno had waged a 4-year battle with a rare occurrence of breast cancer prior to her condition severely worsening in March, requiring a zoo veterinarian to euthanize the elephant.

Juno was first diagnosed in 2016 with breast cancer and underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments. Then, she underwent surgery last November to remove a malignant tumor in her right mammary gland, but zoo officials said the cancer had returned and began growing at an alarming rate just prior to her death.

Officials have noted that Juno had the only known case of breast cancer in an elephant. In addition, zoologists indicated the world's largest land mammals generally aren't diagnosed with any form of cancer.

Juno was one of just two Asian elephants at the zoo, and officials are currently working with other zoological groups to find a companion for the remaining elephant, Savannah.

Juno was featured last May in a zoo series by ABC-7's Nate Ryan entitled "The Nate-ure Report." Click here to view to that story.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

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Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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