Known as the world’s “saddest” elephant, Flavia has died in captivity at the age of 47 years old.
The female elephant was separated from her herd at the age of three and has spent the last 43 years living in solitary confinement at the Cordoba Zoo in southern Spain. According to Spanish newspaper The Local, Flavia suffered from a “deep depression” that had influenced her deteriorating health and weight loss over the last six months. She was reportedly euthanized after collapsing in her enclosure earlier this month.
“On March 1, 2019, Córdoba woke up with the sad news of the death of our beloved elephant Flavia,” zoo staff said in a YouTube tribute to the Asian elephant. “With this audiovisual, we want to pay tribute for having accompanied us for more than 40 years teaching us to take care of their species, their habitat and the environment at the hands of their closest family: the public workers of the Zoo of Córdoba.”
Flavia’s lonely existence was for some time at the center of the criticism of keeping highly intelligent and social animals in captivity. In the wild, elephants can live twice as long as their captive counterparts in part because of their important familial bonds and wide-encompassing ranges. Researchers believe that obesity and stress likely contribute to the early death of captive elephants.
Animal rights group PACMA had been working with Cordoba over the last year in an attempt to move her to a sanctuary in hopes of improving her health.
"Flavia was my same age and during my 45 years of life I have been able to have all kinds of experiences and relationships. I have traveled, I have enjoyed my hobbies and quality time with my loved ones. Flavia has been prevented. During all those years she has been alone and captive in the zoo of Córdoba. We hope that no animal will go through this again,” said PACMA president Silvia Barquero in a statement.
[H/T: The Local Spain]