Home / News / EleNotes / Remembering Hadari
By: The Elephant Sanctuary

Remembering Hadari

With great sadness, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee announces the passing of African elephant Hadari, age 36.

Born in 1980, Hadari was captured and imported to the United States when she was a year old. She spent 14 years at Jungle Larry’s African Safari in Cedar Point, Florida and was then moved to the Nashville Zoo in 1995. Hadari spent 20 years at the Nashville Zoo, before retiring to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee on September 24, 2015. Rosie and Sukari, who also lived at the Nashville Zoo, joined her in November the same year.

Hadari wasted no time exploring The Sanctuary. Upon her arrival, she immediately began inspecting her new surroundings, using her trunk to investigate every gate and every new smell. She often stopped her search to relish the welcoming array of foods. Hadari spent her first night undecided as to whether she should be in the barn or checking out The Sanctuary in the moonlight. She did both. 


Hadari amazed Care Staff with how quickly she adapted to retirement.

“Seeing Hadari transition into a sanctuary elephant has been a highlight of my nearly 20-year career working with a variety of animals,” said Stephanie DeYoung, Director of Elephant Husbandry at The Elephant Sanctuary. “Of the many firsts that Hadari has had over the past year, two of the greatest moments Care Staff observed include the first time Hadari crossed the creek bed at the farthest end of her habitat, as well as the first time she ventured down into her habitat’s deep valley.”

Having been described by her former keepers as an anxious, antisocial elephant, Hadari soon began sharing space and activities with other elephants. At The Sanctuary, Hadari was given time to adjust to her new surroundings at her own pace, and introductions with Tange and Flora—two of The Sanctuary’s long-term African elephant residents—went extremely well. The Sanctuary’s Protected Contact/Positive Reinforcement management program allowed Hadari to readily participated in routine husbandry behaviors including foot care, baths and other medical treatments all aimed at providing her optimal and individualized health care.

Hadari and Flora

Throughout the fall and winter Flora, Tange, and Hadari began spending more time exploring the habitat together and were getting along very well. Caregivers observed them huddled close to each other while waiting for hay or to be let into the barn at night, remaining patient and respectful of each other while shifting habitat areas. Hadari was also seen exploring the deep woods of East Habitat near the pond on warmer days in recent weeks.

Tange and Hadari

A Sudden and Unexpected Goodbye

Tragically, on Monday morning, January 2, Hadari passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at age 36. She was found by Care Staff in a favorite area of the habitat, there were no visible signs of distress or injury. Hadari was known to be in good health, making full use of The Sanctuary this year, traveling throughout the habitat, knocking down trees, and sharing space with other elephants.


Dr. McManaman and staff from University of Georgia led the necropsy. They were joined by Dr. Andrew Cushing from University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. Heather Robertson, Director of Veterinary Services at the Nashville Zoo. Dr. Steve Scott and Dr. Lydia Young completed the team. Preliminary findings indicate cardiac arrest. A full report should be available in three to four months.

It is The Elephant Sanctuary's policy to perform necropsies on all deceased elephants to gain knowledge that will benefit the entire elephant care community.

Hadari was loved by all and her absence is deeply felt. We will continue to honor and celebrate her remarkable life and the impact she had on the entire Sanctuary family, elephants and staff alike.

Gifts made in memory of Hadari will help provide other captive elephants the opportunity to live out their lives in a spacious natural habitat with companionship of an elephant herd. 

You may leave a written tribute to Hadari below.

<  Previous Next  >

Current Residents

Learn More Donate

Sign up for EleNews!

By completing this form, you consent that you have read, understood, and agree to all policies contained in the Privacy Policy.