Taj, America’s Oldest Elephant, Dies At 71

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REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

Although probably not related to the global mass animal deaths, North America’s oldest elephant, Taj, has died at 71. She outlived her species’ life expectancy by almost two-fold.

Taj spent 33 years as part of the animal crew at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. She had a distinguished career stacking logs, playing tug-of-war and giving rides in daily performances for visitors.

(More on TIME.com: See the Top 10 Strange Animal Deaths.)

Before moving to the Bay Area, Taj traveled the world with Circus Vargas, participated in religious ceremonies with the Hare Krishnas and received training in a Southern California program.

Most likely born in Southeast Asia, Taj’s journey to the U.S. is a mystery. No record exists of her before 1970, although the Association of Zoos and Aquariums lists her birth year as 1940.

(More on TIME.com: See why zoos are bad for elephants.)

Watch Taj eat cake at her 70th birthday party last year. An onlooker said enviously, “That’s awesome. I wish I could eat cake like that.”


(via San Francisco Chronicle)