Shirley, the second-oldest elephant in North America, died Monday at the age of 72 at her home of 21 years at The Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee in Hohenwald.
Born wild in Sumatra in 1948, Shirley was captured and sold to a traveling circus, with which she performed for 20 years. She survived a number of harrowing experiences, including a highway accident in which two other elephants died, a fire aboard a cruise ship that nearly sank, as well as being captured by the forces of Fidel Castro. Her life was featured in a documentary film, "The Urban Elephant: Shirley's Story."
"The Sanctuary is deeply honored to have provided care for Shirley for 21 years," said Janice Zeitlin, CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary. "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.