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‘World’s saddest elephant’ dies after 43 years alone in zoo

Flavia spent decades living in confinement with no interaction with other elephants, animal rights group claims

Chiara Giordano
Tuesday 05 March 2019 19:12 GMT
Villagers knit jumpers for Indian elephants to protect them from near-freezing temperatures

A female elephant known as the “saddest in the world” has died after living alone in a zoo for 43 years.

The Asian elephant, named Flavia, died at Cordoba Zoo in southern Spain last week, where she had lived since she was three years old.

Her physical health was said to have deteriorated during the last six months before her death.

She was also reported to suffer from depression.

The zoo had been working with animal rights group PACMA to get Flavia, who was 47 years old, moved to a sanctuary where they hoped her wellbeing would improve.

However, PACMA claimed she lived in “confinement and solitude” and did not get to interact with other elephants.

Cordoba Zoo announced her death “with great sadness” on Friday.

Female Asian elephant Flavia has died after spending 43 years living alone at Cordoba Zoo in southern Spain. (Zoo de Córdoba)

Amparo Pernichi, the councillor in charge of environmental issues, told a press conference at Cordoba city hall that Flavia was no longer able to stand up on her own and was eventually put down.

She described the elephant as an “icon” for the city, and said her death was particularly sad for those who had looked after her throughout her life and cared for her in her final moments.

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PACMA called for no more animals to arrive at the zoo and for those already in captivity to not be allowed to reproduce.

The organisation’s president, Silvia Barquero, added: “During all those years she has been alone and captive in the zoo of Cordoba.

“We hope that no animal will go through this again.”

Elephants are social animals like humans and are known to develop strong bonds within family units.

They can live up to 70 years in the wild.

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