Shirley, oldest elephant at The Elephant Sanctuary, dies at age 72

HOHENWALD, TN (WSMV) – Shirley, the oldest elephant at The Elephant Sanctuary and second oldest in North America, died on Monday at the age of 72.

Shirley retired to The Elephant Sanctuary in 1999 after spending 24 years within the circus and one other 22 years as the only elephant on exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Zoo and Gardens in Monroe, LA.

“The Sanctuary is deeply honored to have provided care for Shirley for 21 years. We thank Shirley’s many supporters, fans, and friends who have shared her story, who have loved her from afar, and who have partnered with us through the years to provide lifetime care and the opportunity for  Shirley to know true companionship with other elephants,” mentioned Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary.

Shirley, the third oldest Asian elephant in North America, will flip 70 on Friday at the Elephant Sanctuary in Lewis County.

At 72 years outdated, Shirley defied all odds as one of many oldest elephants in captivity and lived nicely past the life expectancy for a captive. She was The Elephant Sanctuary’s oldest elephant and, at the time of her passing, held the report for the second oldest elephant in North America.

Shirley was born in 1948 in (*72*). She was captured from the wild and bought to a touring circus, entertaining audiences for greater than 20 years.

In addition to the immense hardship of a life in efficiency, throughout her time within the circus, Shirley survived seize by Fidel Castro’s forces in addition to a freeway accident that killed two different elephants. In 1963, the circus ship Shirley was touring on caught hearth in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and partially sank, leaving Shirley with burns on her again, aspect and ft.

In 1974, Shirley suffered a damaged leg throughout an altercation with one other elephant. As a results of her damage, in 1977 she was transferred to the Monroe, LA, zoo.

As Shirley aged, the zoo employees determined she wanted extra space and the companionship of different elephants. In 1999, her major caretaker, Solomon James, accompanied Shirley on her journey to The Elephant Sanctuary.

Upon her arrival at The Elephant Sanctuary, documented by Argo Films for the documentary The Urban Elephant, Shirley had a loud and joyous reunion with one other Asian elephant, Jenny, almost bending the bars of their barn stalls to be close to to at least one one other. It was later found that the 2 carried out collectively within the circus 24 years earlier. For the subsequent seven years, Shirley and Jenny had been inseparable in a relationship resembling one among a mom and calf.

The Sanctuary’s Care and Veterinary groups have been intently monitoring Shirley over the previous a number of weeks as they started to look at gradual modifications in her mobility and mentation. Veterinary and husbandry employees labored across the clock to make sure best-care and luxury, checking in on Shirley at 10 p.m. and a couple of a.m., along with barn digital camera checks all through the night time. Shirley handed away peacefully within the early hours of Monday morning, surrounded by her caregivers. Afterward, Shirley’s habitat-mates, Sissy and Tarra, got the chance to go to and mourn.

As is customary for all elephants who die at The Elephant Sanctuary, a necropsy can be carried out to assist inform the care and remedy of all elephants in captivity.

Click for more on Shirley’s life.

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