It’s a giant loss.
The nation’s oldest zoo elephant passed away at a Miami zoo on Thanksgiving Day at age 56. according to reports.
Dalip, who arrived in South Florida as a calf from India in 1967, had been a prime attraction at Zoo Miami for decades, the Miami Herald reported.
Weighing more than 10,000 pounds in his prime, Dalip’s health had been in sharp decline in recent months and zoo staffers found him unable to get up in his pen on Thursday.
Concerned that he could be in his final hours, employees who had the holiday off gathered at the zoo to try to get him on his feel with straps and forklifts, the outlet reported.
When those efforts failed, workers pivoted to simply keeping Dalip calm and comfortable as the end neared.
“They brought him peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches,” zoo director Ron Magill told the paper. “And he did eat them. They gave him cantaloupe. They gave him watermelon. And he seemed to really enjoy it. Even though he had no strength.”
Dalip was initially gifted to a Key Biscayne zoo by famed big game hunter Ralph Scott, who supplied Florida facilities with exotic animals for decades, according to the Herald.
Dalip sired one male calf named Spike, who is currently housed at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC.
“He served as an ambassador for his species, and brought smiles to the faces of Zoo Miami visitors for over four decades,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a statement after Dalip’s death.