Miami-Dade County

Cita the elephant dies after ‘confrontation’ at Zoo Miami


Cita the elephant is dead.

Zoo Miami on Monday announced the death of one of its ‘Golden Girls’ African elephants, the victim of old age and a fight with another elephant. She died Friday evening.

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.

The results will not be known for several weeks, but there were indications that a blood clot may have been a “major” contributing factor.

“Being over 50 years old, Cita was suffering from a variety of age-related issues that included a general loss of body condition, muscle wasting and advanced arthritis,” the zoo announced. “It is believed that the combination of these issues contributed to Cita’s inability to stand after being knocked down by Peggy and eventually led to her death.”

The zoo’s statement says the confrontation was likely due to Peggy, 42, asserting herself among the elephants, who live in groups.

“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.

Cita was part of a group of African elephants, including Peggy and another female Mabel, affectionately known as “The Golden Girls,” because they were all over 40.

Lisa died in August 2017 of a mesenteric torsion, also known as a twisted intestine.

“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.”

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, Magill said.

So will there be another potential Golden Girl at the zoo?

“At this time, there are no plans to bring in another elephant,” said Magill, who says that after the necropsy Cita will be incinerated.

Elephants have a keen nose. They have more smell receptors than any mammal – including dogs – and can sniff out food that is several miles away. A new study tests their ability to distinguish between similar smelling plants.

Celebrity/real time news reporter Madeleine Marr has been with The Miami Herald since 2003. She has covered such features as travel, fashion and food. In 2007, she helped launch the newspaper’s daily People Page, attending red carpet events, awards ceremonies and press junkets; interviewing some of the biggest names in show business; and hosting her own online show. She is originally from New York City and has two daughters.