“She was really a wonderful elephant. A beautiful elephant with a rough history but an indomitable spirit. A big, big personality,” said Jackie Gai, Maggie’s veterinarian in her final years. “She had a beautiful face with long eyelashes. A very sweet and expressive face.” …
Her new home was a sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif., run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society. Dr. Gai, director of veterinary services for PAWS, said Maggie flourished in her new habitat, with acres of hills to roam and mud to wallow in. And Maggie had a best friend: Lulu, a retired zoo elephant from San Francisco.
“They refused to be apart. Everywhere Maggie went, Lulu went, and vice versa,” Gai said. “So it’s just what I would say was the deepest of friendships.”
Gai said Maggie seemed to choose the place of her death. On Tuesday, Maggie lay down under a favorite oak tree. With Lulu by her side and a caregiver nearby, Maggie drew her last breath.
While African elephants in the wild can live to 65, Gai said Maggie exceeded the median life expectancy for a captive elephant.
“She was a good friend to her elephant friends, and she was lucky to have a caring zoo director who made the right decision for her,” Gai said. “And we are honored to have had the opportunity to care for her all these years.”
Gai said Lulu seems sad and is getting extra attention.
Maggie’s care was funded for several years by game-show host and animal advocate Bob Barker, who also reimbursed the Air Force for Maggie’s flight from Alaska.