Zoo Miami mourns loss of ‘iconic’ elephant, fixture since 1967

‘Dalip’ was zoo’s ‘patriarch,’ spokesperson says

56-year-old elephant "Dalip" was a mainstay at Zoo Miami. He was euthanized on Thanksgiving Day. (File photo) (Ron Magill, Zoo Miami)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Staff at Zoo Miami euthanized “iconic” 56-year-old Asian elephant “Dalip” Thursday afternoon following a series of health problems, officials said.

Dalip, who was believed to be the oldest Asian elephant bull in the country, was found lying down in his habitat, unable to get up, zoo spokesperson Ron Magill said.

Dalip, whose name meant “king” in Hindi, “had been losing weight and showing other signs of declining health associated with his advanced age” over the preceding months, he said, and staff determined there was little to no chance of recovery.

“Tears flowed as staff that had worked with and known Dalip for many years lined up to say goodbye,” Magill said. “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.”

Dalip, who fathered a male calf named Spike in 1980, celebrated his 50th birthday back in 2016.

He was Zoo Miami’s last animal to have lived at the old Crandon Park Zoo on Key Biscayne, the predecessor to what is now Zoo Miami.

He arrived as a year-old calf from India back in August of 1967, Magill said, as a gift from philanthropist Ralph Scott.

“His loss leaves a massive hole in the hearts of all who knew him and he will forever remain an iconic figure in the zoo’s history,” Magill said.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.