Oldest elephant in N. America dies at 71
Taj, an Asian elephant who could paint on canvas, lived at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California, for 33 years.
January 19th, 2011
09:25 AM ET

Oldest elephant in N. America dies at 71

Taj, an Asian elephant who could hold a paintbrush to create art on canvas, has died at age 71, her keepers announced.

"As the oldest elephant in North America, we mourn the loss of this gentle soul who touched millions, but we also celebrate an extraordinary life," Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park in Vallejo, California, posted Tuesday on its Facebook page.

Taj far exceeded the average life expectancy of 44.8 years for her species, park spokeswoman Nancy Chan told the San Jose Mercury News.

Taj lived at the park for 33 years. Before her retirement three years go, the former Circus Vargas performer entertained crowds by stacking logs and playing tug of war with visitors, according to the Mercury News.

Late in life she learned how to paint. Her abstract creations were auctioned for charity, The Daily Mail reported.

The park's senior elephant trainer, Nick Way, told the local newspaper the Times-Herald that Taj "is the kind of unique soul you hope to be lucky enough to encounter once in your lifetime."

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Filed under: Animals • California • Elephants • U.S.
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. John

    I lived so close to Taj for so long before I left without ever buying one of Taj's works for charity, now I have one more regret.

    January 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Silence Dogood

    Interesting coincidence that the oldest elephant in North America expires on the day the US House Republicans, popularly symbolized by an elephant, repeal health care for its citizens. Just an observation...

    January 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DDD

    R.I.P. Taj!

    January 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ramon F Herrera

    GOP: You are next!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera
      January 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ash

    Metropl
    ............................Thousands of people will die every day. But what makes you think no-one cares? And just because people care about people dying, that doesn't mean we shouldn't feel sad when a creature dies. Wow – 71 years. That's a great age for this wonderful elephant, a friend of so many people. I truly wish I could have met her.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mahout

    The life expectancy of elephas maximus (Asian elephant) is 60 to 70 years, not 44.8 years as reported to the San Jose Mercury News, which is closer to the 46 year average lifespan of an African elephant, loxodonta Africana.

    January 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SBFin Dallas

    So many different views, so little time. We are all here for just a blink of an eye in time. Animals, humans...we displace them for our 'benefit', and keep them in captivity for their's.
    For this amazing animal to have survived for almost double her life span in captivity says to me that she was loved, and that she learned to love the humans she came into contact with. Not all situations are optimal...I say save the animals in the wild. Curb the human inhabitation of their land. But will you be the first to curb humans from taking over more of the planet to keep animals in there own habitat, I think not. Don't knock captivity. It may be the only way future generations live to actually 'see' these amazing creatures of God's creation.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    i love animals better than humans

    January 20, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. peg

    Ummm~ guys,you are living in captivity.. Most humans are domesticated.
    Elephants loose their teeth with age. In the wild they starve to death,or something eats them alive. In capitivity they can be fed special soft foods..

    January 20, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  10. ELEPHENT LORD

    TREMBLE BEFORE TAJ U WILL ALL BE AWESUMIFIED WOTH THIS ELEPHENT AS U READ ABOUT HIm

    January 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barrack Obama

    I visted this guy with my wife Michelle Obama, we had a blast with Taj.

    January 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. standingwave

    Some animals thrive in captivity and some don't.The ones who do usually live longer than average in captivity. The ones who don't usually live shorter lives and,btw,rarely breed while captive. That said not all captivity is equal.

    January 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. N

    Rest in peace, young lady. I don't know who you will meet at the Rainbow Bridge, but enjoy yourself. I pray your family, animals and people alike, will mourn your passing, but rest easier in knowing that you were loved by millions.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
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