Legendary Asian Elephant Dies at 56 in Zoo Miami on Thanksgiving Day

Zoo Miami announced the death of a 56-year-old Asian elephant bull on Thanksgiving Day.

According to a press release from Zoo Communications Director Ron Magill, “Dalip” was humanely euthanized Thursday afternoon after he was found lying down in his habitat, unable to get up.

Due to his advanced age, Dalip had been showing signs of declining health over the last several months, the release said.

Prior to finding Dalip immobile in his habitat, Magill says the zoo had been administering a variety of treatments with little success.

On Thursday, the Animal Science, Animal Health, and Maintenance teams made “a tremendous effort” to get Dalip on his feet with no success, Magill says.

The teams examined blood levels which indicated that there was little or no chance of recovery, at which point Magill says the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Dalip.

“Tears flowed as staff that had worked with and known Dalip for many years lined up to say goodbye,” said Magill. “To many, he was not only the patriarch of the elephant herd at the zoo but in fact was recognized as the patriarch of the entire animal population that calls the zoo home.”

At 56 years old, Dalip was believed to be the oldest elephant bull in the country, according to Zoo Miami.

Magill says Dalip was a “magnificent” Asian elephant with huge tusks that had to be occasionally trimmed so that they did not hit the ground.

“We’re heartbroken to say goodbye to our Asian Elephant, Dalip. He served as an ambassador for his species and brought smiles to the faces of Zoo Miami visitors for over four decades,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “On this Thanksgiving holiday, we remain grateful to the extraordinary Zoo Miami staff who delivered compassionate care throughout his life.”

With Dalip’s passing also comes the end of an era as he was the last mammal at Zoo Miami that originally lived at the Crandon Park Zoo on Key Biscayne, the predecessor to Miami Metrozoo, and now Zoo Miami. 

Dalip arrived at the Crandon Park Zoo on Key Biscayne, the predecessor to Zoo Miami, from India as a one-year-old calf in August of 1967. In 1980, he successfully sired a male calf named Spike.

During his time at the zoo, Dalip helped to educate and inspire millions of visitors about elephants and the need to care for and protect them, Magill said.