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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Zoo Miami is mourning the loss of one of their “Golden Girls”, a 51-year-old female African elephant named Cita who died Friday evening after having a confrontation with another elephant.

According to Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill, Cita was knocked down by another elephant named Peggy and was unable to recover.

Cita underwent an extensive necropsy that included a variety of tests to help determine the cause death.  While the results of some of those tests will not be known for several weeks, there are some indications that a blood clot may have been a major contributing factor.

At 51-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.  It is believed that the combination of these issues contributed to her inability to stand after being knocked down by Peggy and eventually led to her death from a suspected thrown blood clot.

Cita, a 51-year-old African elephant, died at Zoo Miami on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 (Photo Credit: Zoo Miami/Ron Magill)

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.  Unfortunately, because of Cita’s advanced age, Peggy’s effort to reinforce her dominance resulted in Cita being knocked down.

The Zoo Miami team made several efforts to assist Cita while providing her with medications and other supportive measures to alleviate pain and stress but were unfortunately unsuccessful in getting her back on her feet.

Cita, and another female named Lisa arrived at Zoo Miami on April 19, 2016 from the Virginia Zoo.  They joined the other African elephants, Peggy and Mabel on the African elephant exhibit and were affectionately called “The Golden Girls” because of their advanced age (all in excess of 40) and the fact that Zoo Miami was where they would spend their retirement.  Lisa died of a mesenteric torsion in August of 2017.

Magill added that this is very difficult time for the Zoo Miami family, as well as the staff and volunteers at the Virginia Zoo where Cita had lived for decades.  This is especially difficult for the elephant keepers who have a very special bond with these magnificent and charismatic animals that they so passionately dedicate themselves to caring for.

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