When I was 17/18 I got my first job. This job just so happened to be in the elephant department at the local free-range zoo. At that time the park had three gorgeous, amazing African Elephants that touched me like I never thought possible.
Tiki was born in 1970 in the wilds of South Africa. At the age of 1 she was captured and transported to the United States, finally ending up at the Wildlife Safari at the age of 4. For 36 years she has been an ambassador, a performing artist (or so Tiki thought after being in the Opera, along with learning to play the drums and harmonica), a matriarch, a great friend, a teacher, a student, and quite possibly the gentlest elephant to ever be seen in captivity. Wednesday, October 6, 2010, Tiki took her last breath. I will never forget the lessons she taught me, and I'm sure the millions of people that have grown to love elephants through her will all mourn to some extent as they learn of her death. Tiki, we will love and miss you always.