Wildlife Safari loses one of its most popular animals

Wildlife Safari loses one of its most popular animals »Play Video
Visitors to Wildlife Safari watch elephant recycle

WINSTON, Ore. -- It is a heart wrenching day for the staff at Wildlife Safari in Winston. Tiki the Elephant, world famous for her paintings and working as a living Elephant Car Wash, has died.

Tiki died early Wednesday morning, after park officials say she had been sick for several days.

Even though she was the smallest one there, she was the matriarch. She had been at the park for over 35 years, and the staff doesn't know how the other two elephants, George and Alice, are going to fare without her.

Officials say that Tiki's health had been slowly declining for the past several months, and although they tried to help her get better, there really wasn't anything they could do for her.

Katie Alayon, Senior Elephant Keeper, was fighting back tears as she told KPIC News, "We're all devastated. We're heartbroken. Tiki is very, very special, and she will never be forgotten, and she will be forever missed by all of us in the elephant department, by all of us at the park."

Tiki will be missed immensely by not only the staff at the park, but here at KPIC News as well. We have had to chance to see Tiki in action with her paintings, car washes and even helping out an autistic Douglas County boy. Tiki passed the bouquet to the bride at KPIC.com's Webmaster's wedding in 2003, and he and his wife say that they will always remember her for being a big part of the big day.

Do you have pictures with Tiki from the Widlife Safari? We want to see them. You can upload them here.

KPIC News will be doing a feature on Tiki's life Thursday on KPIC TV at 5:00 p.m.