Second Oldest Elephant In North America Dies At Tennessee Sanctuary

The Elephant Sanctuary's oldest member, and the second oldest elephant in North America, has died. The sanctuary, located in Hohenwald, Tennessee, announced on Tuesday (February 23), that 72-year-old Shirley passed away after spending over two decades at the safe haven, FOX 17 reports.

"The Sanctuary is deeply honored to have provided care for Shirley for 21 years," said CEO Janice Zeitlin. "We thank Shirley's many supporters, fans, and friends who have shared her story, who have loved her from afar, and who have partnered with us through the years to provide lifetime care and the opportunity for Shirley to know true companionship with other elephants."

Shirley, an Asian elephant, arrived at the sanctuary in 1999 after years performing in a traveling circus. She beat the odds of how long an elephant could live in captivity, reaching a remarkable 72 years.

According to the sanctuary, Shirley passed away early Monday morning surrounded by her caretakers. She was also visited by her habitat-mates, Sissy and Tarra, who also mourned her death, the sanctuary said.

"We learned so much about the dignity and grace of elephants aging in captivity through caring for Shirley, and we will continue to apply this knowledge to help care for all current and future residents," said Zeitlin. "Shirley leaves an enduring legacy marked by a truly remarkable life, and she will be deeply missed by all."

Photo: Getty Images