Cita and Peggy were two Miami Zoo fan-favorites. Nicknamed ‘The Golden Girls’ because of their advanced age, the pair of pachyderms arrived at the South Florida zoo from their previous home in Virginia.
They joined two other elderly African Elephants named Lisa and Mabel; the foursome became fast friends and were commonly seen together in their enclosure.
Lisa and Mabel passed away in the past few years, but Cita and Peggy were hanging in there. The girls were known to zookeepers as gentle and calm residents. But, being herd animals, they also sometimes show dominance.
For a reason unknown to zoo officials, the friendship between the two aged pachyderms turned deadly when a fight broke out and Cita took the worst of it.
According to The Miami Herald, “An elephant known in her Miami zoo as one of the 'Golden Girls' died after fighting with another elderly elephant.
“The 50-year-old Cita had a “confrontation with another African elephant named Peggy and was knocked down and unable to recover,’’ according to a zoo statement. A necropsy will determine the cause of death."
According to zoo officials, "Cita suffered from several age-related issues including muscle wasting, advanced arthritis and general loss of body condition.
"Though the average lifespan of an elephant is 70 years, their life expectancy shortens in captivity to between 35 and 45 years," Zoo Miami Director Ron Magill told the Miami Herald.
It is suspected that the younger Peggy, 42, was trying to assert herself when she got a little too rough with 50-year-old Citi, knocking her to the ground from which the elderly elephant could not get up.
The zoo said in a statement, “Elephants are very social animals and have a strict hierarchy within their groups. Confrontations within those groups to reinforce an individual’s status are not uncommon.
"Because of Cita’s advanced age, Peggy’s effort to reinforce her dominance resulted in Cita being knocked down.
“The zoo’s medical staff was unable to save the 7,500-pound Cita, who came to Zoo Miami in April 2016 from the Virginia Zoo.”
"The average lifespan of African elephants, the largest land animals on Earth, is 70 years. In captivity, the life expectancy is between 35 and 45 years," a zoo spokesman said.
“The sad reality is the lifespan of animals is not as long as humans,” the zoo’s director Ron Magill said at the time. “It doesn’t make it easier to lose one.”
Zoo patrons expressed their sadness at the unexpected loss.
“So sad to learn “Cita", a 50 yr old elephant at @zoomiami died after a "confrontation" w/ pal "Peggy". We visited them New Year's Day - my daughter's 1st zoo experience. Zoo says b/c of Cita’s age Peggy’s effort to reinforce her dominance caused Cita's fall (1st photo: Zoo Miami) “
Please join us is saying goodbye to Cita, the beloved African Elephant, and please pray for all those whose lives she touched in her magnificent 51 years. They will be missing her so very much...