Long-time Virginia Zoo elephant dies in Miami

Lisa and Cita at the elephant exhibit at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. Nov. 3, 2015 (WAVY/Rico Bush)

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Lisa the elephant, who spent more than 40 years at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, died Tuesday at her new home in Florida.

Zookeepers at the Miami Zoo made the announcement on their Facebook page. Lisa had only been at the zoo for about a year.

A photo of Lisa the elephant courtesy of the Virginia Zoo, via WAVY

She and her companion, Cita, left Virginia to go to Florida after local keepers claimed they had to follow new guidelines about keeping elephants in groups. The two were older and joined two other older female elephants when they went to Miami. Keepers lovingly called the group, “The Golden Girls”.

Miami Zoo officials said on Facebook Tuesday that there were no obvious causes of Lisa’s death. Staff will perform a necropsy to determine how she died. 

Officials say they had been watching Lisa closely since July 12, when they found her lying down in her barn. She needed help from the zoo staff to get back on her feet.

Lisa reportedly resumed most normal activity and regained her appetite after that, but officials say staff were reluctant to say she had fully recovered.

The Virginia Zoo issued a statement:

Our friends at Zoo Miami have provided exceptional care and management for Lisa in her later years. We find comfort in knowing that Cita still has familiar faces and companionship with her keepers and the other 2 elephants, Peggy and Mabel. This is a great loss to our community and we thank our staff and Zoo Miami staff who played a part in Lisa’s health and welfare. She undoubtedly had a tremendous impact on visitors to the Virginia Zoo, as well. Her contribution to the community’s conservation knowledge and appreciation for this amazing species will be cherished.”

Lisa was 44 years-old.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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