George, the 10-foot tall African elephant who lived for 33 years at Wildlife Safari in Winston, died Monday surrounded by park staff.
The cause of death was an apparent age-related heart condition, according to Wildlife Safari spokesperson Jacob Schlueter.
George celebrated his 39th birthday at the end of June of this year. African elephants live an average of 56 years in the wild, but live to be an average of 17 years when held in captivity.
“George is a huge loss for Wildlife Safari and the Douglas County community,” said Dan Van Slyke, the park’s executive director. “George has been a fixture here for over 30 years and has been helping to make family memories ever since.”
George’s art was sold at the park and he frequently participated in interactions with the public.
He is survived by the remaining three elephants at Wildlife Safari, Tava, Moja and Valarie.
The Wildlife Safari drive-thru remains open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. amid the two-week freeze to help curb the spread of coronavirus. There will also be access to the restroom facilities, take-out orders from the Safari Grill and limited access to the gift shop. Safari Village will be closed and there will be no animal encounters during the two-week freeze.