TO GENERATIONS of visitors, the lumbering elephant with the endearing personality was an impressive attraction at the Philadelphia Zoo for 43 years.
Her name, Dulary, is an Indian term of affection reserved for creatures deserving of great love. The sweet-tempered elephant earned the name as she entertained and awed folks of all ages in Philadelphia from 1964 to 2007.
She was moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee because the zoo couldn't afford to build an elephant habitat suitable for housing an expanded herd.
She died at the sanctuary yesterday. She had observed her 50th birthday in May.
In announcing her death, the sanctuary couldn't say enough about how much Dulary was loved by the staff. (No visitors are allowed in the sanctuary.) Dulary suffered intermittent health problems early in the year.
Then on Sunday she was discovered lying down in the Asian barn. Staff and vets responded. Attempts to get her to stand were unsuccessful. Philadelphia Zoo vets were consulted, and round-the-clock monitoring was established throughout the night.
Among those concerned was her best buddy, an elephant named Misty.
"Dulary passed away peacefully on Monday morning, surrounded by those who loved her," the sanctuary said in a statement. After the sanctuary staff left the barn, Misty and Dulary's other elephant companions were allowed to be with her.
Dulary was born in Thailand in November 1963, and her favorite food was sugar cane.
She arrived at the sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., about 85 miles southwest of Nashville, on May 1, 2007.
"Dulary easily assimilated into sanctuary life," the sanctuary said, "and after only two days of exploring her new home and meeting new companions, she comfortably lay down to take a nap with Misty diligently watching over her as she slept."
Dulary, Misty and another pal, Delhi, were inseparable companions until Delhi died a year later. Dulary and Misty mourned as only elephants can.
"Dulary will always hold a special place in our hearts," the sanctuary wrote. "Strong-willed and self-confident, she was a treasured member of the Philadelphia Zoo community and the Elephant Sanctuary family.
"She lived her life to the fullest every day. She will be remembered with joy by all those whose lives she touched. We are honored to have been a part of her journey."
The sanctuary closed its statement with an Indian benediction: "Namaste, sweet Dulary."