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It's a sad day in Monroe, Louisiana today.  A longtime, local celebrity has mad her way to that great game reserve in the sky.  22-year resident of the Louisiana Purchase Zoo and Gardens, Shirley the Asian Elephant has passed away.

Shirley was not only one of the most popular animals at the park, she was the only elephant on the property.  Thousands of families were able to see her in all of pachyderm glory during her stay at the zoo before she was whisked away for "retirement" in 1999.  According to KNOE, Shirley passed away at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee yesterday (2/23/2021) at the ripe old age of 72.

By the way, 72 is pretty old for an elephant.  Not only did Shirley live a long life, she was basically the elephant version of Forrest Gump.  Her story begins in Sumatra all the way back in 1948 when she was captured and sold to a travelling circus - a job she held for 20 years!

Her service with the circus wasn't easy, either.  She barely survived capture by Fidel Castro's forces in Cuba, and narrowly escaped an accident that killed 2 other elephants.  Then, in 1963, the boat she was being transported on caught fire and sank!  Miraculously, she survived but suffered burns on her back, side, and feet.

As if that wasn't enough, she broke her leg during a scuffle with another elephant.  That's when she finally caught a good break, as that injury meant the end of her circus career.  In 1977, she would be transferred to the Louisiana Purchase Zoo and Gardens where she would live a much easier life for the next 2 decades.

Once officials at the zoo realized she needed more room and deserved an official retirement, they made arrangements to transfer Shirley to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.  Not only was she free to roam and liver her life to the fullest, she was reunited with another Asian Elephant she had performed with in the circus so many years ago!

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