There's sad news to report about Tiki the elephant. The long-term resident of Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon passed away last Wednesday leaving staff members heartbroken.
Park officials say Tiki had been ill for several days, however the international animal protection
organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), calling for an investigation into her death.
“Tiki’s unexpected death raises a red flag because at age 40 she should have been in the prime of her life,” said Catherine Doyle, IDA Elephant Campaign director.
IDA has also written to Wildlife Safari Executive Director Dan Van Slyke asking for Tiki's veterinary records to be released to the public.
Meanwhile, staff at the animal park has set up a memorial for her. The workers claim that even though she was the smallest elephant, Tiki was the matriarch of the herd and was loved by everyone who met her. Born in the wild in South Africa, she spent 36 years at the park, and was renowned for her talents which included painting and playing musical instruments.
Tiki's death means that there are now only two other elephants—her longtime companions George and Alice—left living at the park. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) states that as profoundly social creatures, female elephants should not be kept alone. This, IDA points out, is just one of the standards that Wildlife Safari are now contravening.
For more information, visit www.helpelephants.com.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/gonger