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Sheena, Phoenix's 50-year-old elephant, passes way

Officials at the Phoenix Zoo said the Asian elephant died Monday of natural causes.

PHOENIX — Editor's Note: The above video is from a broadcast in 2015.

Sheena, the Phoenix Zoo's 50-year-old Asian elephant, has passed away. 

Zoo officials said Sheena was found resting in her barn Monday morning and died a short time later from natural causes. 

The elephant has spent the last two years battling chronic osteoarthritis and gastrointestinal issues. 

Sheena, who arrived at the zoo in 2000, was known among her caretakers as "the sneaky one." 

“She wasn’t outwardly rambunctious," said Heather Wright, the zoo's manager of elephants, "but we’d hear her playing with toys in the barn, and when we’d come around the corner to watch her, she would freeze and give a look like ‘What? It wasn’t me!’"  

Visitors would often describe feeling a deep connection to Sheena, Wright said, since the elephant seemed to gravitate toward people needing to feel comforted.

“It was a beautiful thing to witness,” Wright said. “She will be sorely missed by all her caretakers here at the zoo, as well as our members and guests.”

The average life span for Asian wild elephants and elephants in managed care settings is 45 years old, the zoo said.

One of Sheena's long-time elephant companions, Reba, passed away last year at the age of 51. 

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