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ASHEBORO, N.C. - The loss of an elephant at a North Carolina zoo is being mourned at the Knoxville Zoo.

On Wednesday, the N.C. Zoo announced the death of Little Diamond. She was born in 1978 in Knoxville, and was very special because she was the first African elephant born in captivity in North America. She was transferred to the N.C. Zoo in May 1995, where she became part of the zoo's seven-member herd.

According to a news release, Little Diamond died Tuesday after eating sand. Zoo staff treated her for five days for intestinal problems.

General Curator Ken Reininger said Little Diamond started showing signs of colic last Friday when she stopped eating and became lethargic.

A necropsy showed Little Diamond had succumbed to an impacted large intestine. According to the zoo, sand is a commonly used in zoo elephant holding facilities and exhibits.

The zoo's six remaining elephants, including four females and two males ranging in age from 12 to 40, remain in good condition and on exhibit.

"Little Diamond had been part of our elephant family for 20 years," said Zoo Director David Jones. "This is a very sad loss."

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