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Oldest elephant in North America dies at 71

[ 2011-01-20 14:10]     字号 [] [] []  
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Taj, the oldest elephant in North America, has died at age 71 at a California theme park, after years of performing for crowds and painting on canvas.

Taj far surpassed the 45-year average life expectancy for Asian elephants, said Nancy Chan, a spokeswoman for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, where the animal lived in the Northern California city of Vallejo.

"So many people have been touched by her, millions of people have met her over the years," Chan said. "Here at the park, everyone who's ever worked with her has said she is their favorite," she said.

The elephant died on Monday, after park staff discovered that her breathing was labored, Chan said. They managed to lay the animal down on the ground and administer medication to ease its pain, she said.

Taj was patient and gentle with trainers and other elephants in the enclosure and seemed to enjoy performing for the public, the park said.

The animal was known for putting forward a leg, letting out a rumble and waiting for a rub down.

The park said that in the late 1990s, Taj learned to paint with a brush on canvas.

Linda Cendes, a spokeswoman for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, said that until the animal's death, Taj was the oldest elephant in North America.

Little is known about Taj's early life, but the elephant performed for Circus Vargas from 1970 to 1976, working with trainer Rex Williams.

In 1976, Taj was given to a group of Hari Krishnas, who used the animal as a symbolic part of religious ceremonies.

But they had trouble handling the elephant and she was sent to Southern California's Moorpark College, where she was used in an exotic animal training program before her 1978 transfer to Marine World, the original name for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the park said.


1. How old was Taj?

2. Where did the Taj die?

3. What group was Taj given to in 1976?


1. 71.

2. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, California.

3. Hari Krishnas.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Oldest elephant in North America dies at 71

About the broadcaster:

Oldest elephant in North America dies at 71

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.