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The Region : Elephant Butts Another Into Fatal Fall

Tara the elephant always had a bad reputation--too aggressive--among the handlers at the Los Angeles Zoo. But the 23-year-old female African elephant committed an act that secured her reputation forever as an “elephant terrible. " She struck without warning, butting McClain, a 16-year-old female African elephant, while the 6,500-pound animal was standing near the edge of an empty concrete moat surrounding the elephant habitat. McClain fell about 10 feet and apparently died instantly of a broken neck. Although keepers are at a loss to explain the incident, zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said they suggest that the most logical reason was simply the contrasting personalities of the two pachyderms. McClain was unusually calm and easy to work with, LaMarca said. But Tara was unusually ornery and difficult. She is not usually featured in the elephant program. Tara will not have to pay for her crime. She will “definitely not” be destroyed, LaMarca said.


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