Oldest North American Elephant Dies in Vallejo

By RJ Middleton
|  Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011  |  Updated 12:30 PM PDT
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Oldest North American Elephant Dies in Vallejo

The oldest Asian elephant in North America died on January 17 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.

Taj, 71, housed with other female Asian elephants -- who showed her due matriarchal deference.

“Taj was a remarkable elephant that touched millions of people over the course of her long life,” park President Dale Kaetzel said in a press release. “We are truly in mourning for this loss; words cannot describe how our entire staff is feeling, in particular the elephant trainers who worked with her every day for years.  She enjoyed a long and fruitful life, and in the 33 years she lived at our park, we all learned so much from her.”

She started her career as a performing circus elephant, from 1970-76. In 1976, she was presented to the Hari Krishnas, who used her -- briefly -- in their religious ceremonies.

Her mischievious nature, paired with a lively spirit, led her to move on to Six Flags.

“Taj is the kind of unique soul you hope to be lucky enough to encounter once in your lifetime,” said Nick Way, senior elephant trainer.  “She was patient and gentle; a role model for young elephants and young trainers alike.  No matter what was going on you could always count on Taj being excited to see you.

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