Wildlife Safari elephant Tiki dies

WINSTON, Ore. -- Tiki the elephant, a longtime favorite at Oregon's Wildlife Safari and a former opera star, has died at age 40.

Members at the park near Roseburg are mourning the loss after her death on Wednesday. A memorial has been set up in honor of the elephant, who has been at the park since shortly after it opened in 1973. The memorial at Safari Dome will be set up through next Wednesday for anyone wanting to visit.

Park elephant manager Dinah Wilson said Tiki was smart and over the years taught herself to play the drums and harmonica, paint on canvas and catch sticks. She also marched in the Rose Parade in Portland and appeared in Portland Opera productions of Aida.

Tiki's cause of death is unknown, and tests are being done to determine exactly how she passed away.

Pictures of Tiki &her memorial

The day that she died, the rest of the herd knew something was wrong. They couldn't communicate with her any more, and she wasn't communicating with them any longer, said Senior Elephant Keeper Katie Alayon.

Staff members are doing their best to reassure the remaining members of the herd. We're making sure that they understand that we are still here, Alayon said. They have had an upheaval in terms of losing Tiki.

Staff members said she was the matriarch of the herd.

She was the smallest of our three, but she sure knew how to boss everybody around, said Alayon.


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