Top 7 Oldest Elephants In The World

Elephants are among the most iconic and awe-inspiring creatures on our planet. They belong to the family Elephantidae and are known for their enormous size, remarkable intelligence, strong social bonds, and a long history of coexistence with humans.

However, there are some elephants out there especially the ones in captivity, who have lived for a much longer period attributed to the excellent care they received and the peaceful environment of the zoo.

Here we would like to share with you the top 7 oldest elephants in the world to ever live.

7. Mary (59 Years Old)

Credit: The San Diego Union Tribune

Having originated in the lush forest of Thailand, Mary was born in 1964. Mary the elephant was housed at two different zoos prior to her arrival at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 1980. She was later relocated to the San Diego Zoo in 2009, ultimately becoming the final Asian elephant in the zoo's collection.

Mary was euthanized at the zoo due to age-related joint ailments which disturbed her daily activities. She is perhaps the only elephant on this list that is still alive and happily celebrated her 59th birthday on 3 January 2023.

6. Saigon (64 Years Old)

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

arrived in Australia when she was merely 3 - 5 years old and used to be part of the Perry Bro Circus until 2010. After that, she was kept captive in the Sydney Zoo where she received ample care for the keepers.

Saigon used to have a companion by her side before passing away and since then she has been living with other animals in the Zoo. In December 2020, Saigon experienced a long-awaited reunion with her own species after more than a decade. 

Two male elephants, Kavi and Ashoka, were introduced to Saigon at Sydney Zoo, giving her the chance to establish a new social group and potentially assume a matriarchal role. Unfortunately, Saigon passed away in February 2022 at the age of 64. Saigon achieved a significant milestone, establishing herself as one of the oldest elephants in Australia.

5. Shirley (72 Years Old)

Credit: The Elephant Sanctuary

Shirley, an Asian elephant, was born in 1948 in the wilds of Sumatra, Indonesia. Unfortunately, her early years were marked by tragedy when she was captured and separated from her family at a very young age. 

She was subsequently sold into the entertainment industry and traveled across the United States, performing in various circuses and exhibitions. Her story took a positive turn in 1963 when she was acquired by the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe, Louisiana.

Shirley continued to live at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo until 2003 when she was moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The sanctuary provided Shirley with the space, freedom, and care she deserved in her later years.

Things took a turn as Shirley passed away on July 6, 2020, at the age of 72, leaving behind a legacy of resilience, friendship, and the importance of humane treatment for elephants in captivity.

4. Ambika (72 years old)

Credit: News18

Ambika, the beloved Asian elephant, holds a special place in the hearts of many as one of the oldest and most cherished residents of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Ambika was born in the wild in 1948 in the forests of India. 

She was taken from her natural habitat at a young age and brought to the United States, where she became a part of the National Zoo's elephant family. Ambika spent over half a century at the National Zoo, captivating visitors with her gentle disposition and dignified presence.

As Ambika entered her later years, the zoo's dedicated staff provided her with specialized care tailored to her aging needs. On March 27, 1999, Ambika achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming the first Asian elephant to give birth through artificial insemination, further contributing to the knowledge of elephant reproduction and genetics.

On March 27, 2019, Ambika celebrated her 71st birthday, making her one of the oldest Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere. She passed away on May 22, 2019, leaving behind a legacy of education, conservation, and enduring beauty.

3. Rani (83 years old)

Credit: Times of India

Rani, born on October 7, 1938, held the distinction of being one of the oldest elephants in the world kept in captivity. She made her transition from Bagh-e-Aam (Public Gardens, Nampally) to Nehru Zoological Park on October 1, 1963. On top of that, Rani was a prominent participant in the Bonalu and Muharram processions.

Rani was suffering from severe arthritis which limited her movements. To help ease her pain,  the zoo authorities built a custom earthen mound within her enclosure that she could use for support.

Things came to an end for Rani as she passed away due to old age at 83 years old. At the same time, a 21-year-old leopard named Ayyappa who was also living in the zoo, took the same fate.

2. Lin Wang (86 years old)

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Lin Wang was born in the wild in 1917 in Thailand. At a young age, he was captured and later acquired by the Chinese Expeditionary Force during World War II. Lin Wang served as a working elephant during the war, carrying heavy loads and assisting with various tasks. After the war, he was gifted to the Taipei Zoo in Taiwan in 1947.

At the Taipei Zoo, Lin Wang became an instant sensation. He was not just an animal; he was a symbol of resilience and a living piece of history. He lived to be one of the oldest elephants in captivity, reaching an astonishing age of 86 years. This incredible lifespan made him the second oldest elephant in the world that is kept in captivity.

On February 26, 2003, Lin Wang passed away, leaving a profound void at the Taipei Zoo and among his many admirers.

1. Changalloor Dakshayani (89 years old)

Credit: BBC

Changalloor Dakshayani, often referred to simply as Dakshayani, was a beloved and iconic Indian elephant known to be the world's oldest elephant. Dakshayani was born in 1930 in the lush forests of Kerala, India. 

At a young age, she was brought to the Chengalloor Mahadeva Temple, where she would spend the majority of her life. Dakshayani became an integral part of the temple's daily rituals and festivals, serving as the temple elephant and captivating the hearts of devotees and visitors.

Dakshayani was not just an elephant; she was a cherished member of the community. She became a symbol of cultural heritage and a source of pride for the people of Chengalloor and Kerala as a whole.

Tragically, on February 5, 2019, Dakshayani passed away at the remarkable age of 89.


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