Oregon's Wildlife Safari family mourns Tiki the elephant

Oregon's Wildlife Safari family mourns Tiki the elephant »Play Video

WINSTON, Ore. -- The staff at Wildlife Safari are in mourning Thursday after the loss of one of the biggest and most popular residents of the wild animal drive through park.

When someone has a great memory, they say that they have the memory of an elephant, and one particular elephant at the park in Winston has left thousands with many happy memories.

KPIC News took a look back at the life of Tiki the elephant, who is world famous for her paintings, her starring appearance in the Portland Opera and the rides she gave to thousands of families from all over the world.

Tiki's story began in 1970, when she was born in South Africa, then came to the United States when she was one year old. Tiki came to the park at the age of four, and spent her years there entertaining guests in shows, educational demonstrations and even washing a few cars along the way.

She arrived at the Safari along with Alice, and even though Alice was a lot bigger, Tiki became the head of the herd.

Katie Alayan, Senior Elephant Keeper, said, "She was actually our matriarch, so out of our three elephants she was the boss. She told everybody else what to do, and they did it. They listened to her."

Tiki appeared in the Portland Opera back in 1999, along with appearances in the Rose Parade, and several outings in Douglas County.

Former elephant manager and trainer, Pat Flora told KPIC News, "While staying in Portland to be in the opera, Tiki did rides at the old Spaghetti Factory. She stayed until every last child got a ride."

She became famous for her paintings, giving rides to thousands of park visitors and performing at the many shows they put on.

She also took part in many people's special days, coming to weddings and handing the brides their flowers.

Tiki also got worldwide recognition as one of the car washing elephants.

Past and present employees at the park remember Tiki as such a special creature, and she will not be soon forgotten.

"She was just so smart, and so wonderful to be around, and it's really just so nice that people are coming out of the woodwork, and coming and telling us stories about her and remembering her. She was so wonderful," said Alayan.

There will be a memorial for Tiki set up through October 13 in the Safari Dome, where she put smiles on kids' faces and warmed adult's hearts.

The stands in the dome are empty today, in the place where Tiki entertained thousands of people in her 35 years there, and her Safari family & fans will continue to mourn her, now that she has taken her final bow.

In lieu of cards or flowers, Wildlife Safari would like donations made to George and Alice, the two remaining elephants at the park.