Homestead - South Dade

Zoo Miami elephant, part of the ‘Golden Girls,’ dies

Zoo Miami has lost one of its “Golden Girls.”

Lisa, a 44-year-old African elephant, died Tuesday, after lying down in her barn.

Lisa was part of a quartet of older elephants that were brought together to live out their “retirement years,” at the zoo, said Ron Magill a spokesman for the zoo.

The group came to be known as the Golden Girls after the popular television sitcom that began airing in 1985 and centered around four women living together in Miami. The show, which featured Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, ran until 1992.

“For all of us it’s a tremendous loss,” Magill said, adding that staff tried to help her up before she took her last breath. “It’s like losing a member of the family.”

Lisa, along with another elephant named Cita, came to Zoo Miami from the Virginia Zoo in April 2016 to live out the rest of their lives. The pair joined the zoo’s other aging elephants, Mabel and Peggy.

In July, Lisa was found lying down and wouldn’t get up. Blood and urine test did not show anything of concern, Magill said, and the elephant continued to improve.

Magill said a cause of death won’t be known until a necropsy and other tests are completed, which could take weeks.

Magill said Lisa was part of a large group of geriatric animals at the zoo, which houses about 3,000 animals. Many of the animals, Magill said, have been there since the zoo opened nearly 40 years ago.

Over the past few years, several high-profile zoo animals have passed away.

Among them: Josephine, the zoo’s matriarch gorilla, who died in January at age 49, and Khaos, the Komodo dragon who appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman.” The 150-pound dragon died in May 2016 at age 18.

“The sad reality is the life span of animals is not as long as humans,” he said. “It doesn’t make it easier to lose one.”