Coco, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's patriarch elephant, died Feb. 16.

Coco, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's patriarch elephant, died Feb. 16.

When zoo staff arrived at 7 a.m. that day, they found Coco lying down and "unable or unwilling to get up," a news release from the zoo said. "They worked non-stop for almost eight hours in an attempt to save him, but he died just before 3 p.m."

Coco was born in the wild and believed to be 40 years old. The elephant, who fathered Bohdi in 2004 and Beco in 2009, came to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1974.

"When I came to the Columbus Zoo in 1978, I was awestruck by the sight of Coco," director emeritus Jack Hanna said in a news release. "He invoked a sense of wonder in everyone who saw him leading them to want to know more about elephants and to care about their plight in the wild.

"Coco will be missed," he said, "by me, by our community and by the many dedicated animal professionals at the Columbus Zoo who have devoted their lives to him for the past 37 years."

Coco had shown no signs of illness and the cause of his death will not be known for several weeks when the results of an autopsy are available.

The zoo now has four elephants; adult females Phoebe and Connie, and young males Bodhi and Beco.