Shirley the elephant, Monroe zoo's sole elephant for 22 years celebrates 70th birthday
Monroe, La. - Shirley the elephant turns 70 years old today. She's celebrating at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, but years ago she lived right here in Monroe at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.
"She absolutely was one of the things you came to the zoo to see", says zoo director Joe Clawson.
But before she was the highlight of the zoo, Shirley was a circus performer. She was born in 1948 in Sumatra, an Indonesian island. She was captured and sold to a traveling circus. But her journey doesn't stop there. She's survived a highway accident, burning ship, and capture from Fidel Castro's forces.
After injuring her leg after an altercation with another elephant, Clawson says the zoo was the only place willing to take Shirley in at the time.
"Our zoo took her in at a point where no other institution would have taken her in."
Despite all the obstacles, Shirley still made it to 70 years old. According to the Elephant Sanctuary the average captive Asian elephant lives to see 42.
"To me I take that as part of it was she was well taken care of here that put her on a good path", says Clawson.