WINSTON, Ore. -- Wildlife Safari staff are mourning the loss of one of their most beloved animals -- George the Elephant.
Staff said George died Monday from a heart attack. They said he was surrounded by caring park staff when he passed.
He was not being treated for heart issues and staff believe he died of old age.
“He’s always been special and he’s always been healthy,” said executive director Dan Van Slyke. “Staff have told me with African elephants they can always be healthy then when they get old, like people, their hearts can give out.”
Van Slyke said George came to Wildlife Safari about 33 years ago, shortly after he was born.
The believe he was 39 years old when he passed.
Van Slyke said George’s passing is a huge loss to the Douglas County community. Throughout the years, he said George touched the hearts of thousands of people and helped them make long-lasting memories.
“We have a lot of animals out here and a lot of them are pretty cool,” he said. “But some really capture your heart and that was George. He was just that cool. Loved people and people loved him.”
George is survived by three other elephants -- Moja, Tava and Valarie.