America's Oldest Elephant Turns 70

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom marks major milestone

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

    If it's true that elephants never forget, there's one at a Bay Area with a pretty full memory bank.

    Taj, an Asian elephant, has been living at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for the past three decades and on Thursday, the park celebrated a milestone: her 70th birthday.

    She won't tell us her exact birth date but records show she was born in 1940. That makes her the oldest elephant in North America.

    Park staff and their families gathered for a grand celebration Thursday, complete with cake, gifts and birthday cheer for the 8-foot-tall guest of honor. Taj was given a bread and fruit-based multi-tiered cake.

    Veterinarians say Taj is healthy overall, but has issues that just about anyone would have at that age. Her longevity is attributed to an active physical and mental life. She has slowed down a bit and has arthritis but still takes walks through the park as she greets park visitors.

    The park tells us Taj is semi-retired but she still serves as one of their standout animal ambassadors, greeting guests and taking part in educational shows and demonstrations. She also still helps the landscapers keep the grounds under control by chomping on grass and trees. Just as anyone else easing into retirement, Taj loves to spend her days basking in the sun and painting -- she learned to paint with a brush in the 1990s.

    Taj's birthday party was the first big event in the park's three week-long birthday celebration for the prominent pachyderm.