Yossi. 7 tons
Photo: Tibor Yeger
Murder in the elephant yard
World's largest captive elephant, living in an Israeli zoo, attacks and kills herd's female leader, leaving staff shocked by his behavior

Monday's visit to the Ramat Gan Safari will not soon be forgotten, as visitors witnessed the elephant yard's male leader attack and kill his female counterpart.


Around 2 pm, toward closing time, Yossi, the 33-year-old male African elephant attacked 46-year-old Atari, brutally slamming her against the yard's wall. The blow caused her to fall to the ground, and left her groaning for a few moments before dying.


The elephant keepers quickly arrived at the scene and removed Yossi, making way for the safari's veterinarian Yigal Horowitz to approach Atari, only to pronounce her dead.


Atari was crushed to death within minutes (Photo: Tibor Yeger)


"She didn’t stand a chance against him," said one elephant keeper, "Yossi is a giant, very powerful elephant. Atari weighed two tons less than him."


Up until now, 7-ton Yossi, who is also the world's largest elephant living in captivity, was the pride of the safari. Being the first elephant born in Ramat Gan after its opening; Yossi was known by all the workers to be calm and easy going.


Indeed, the incident came as a shock to the safari crew, since in all of his years as the herd's leader he never displayed any tendency to violence.


The only possible explanation for this sudden display of aggression, said the safari staff, was that Yossi felt threatened by Atari, as she was the female herd's leader.


Immediately after the incident, Yossi was taken into isolation.


Within the next few days, safari personnel will consult with elephant experts from around the world to decide whether it would be safe to have him reintegrated into the herd or if he should remain isolated in a separate yard.


Atari will be laid to rest at the safari's animal cemetery on Wednesday.


 new comment
See all talkbacks "Murder in the elephant yard"
This will delete your current comment