Water-skiing elephant dies

June 3, 2011 at 10:43 AM

VALDOSTA, Ga., June 3 (UPI) -- An elephant that became famous for a water-skiing trick has died at a Georgia theme park at the estimated age of 58.

Liz Dane, whose father bought Queenie the Siamese elephant from a New York pet store in 1953, said the elephant died Monday at Wild Adventures Water & Theme Park in Valdosta after decades of performing, The Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal reported Friday.

Queenie rose to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s by performing a water-skiing trick atop a pair of pontoons with Dane and Mari Rusing, wife of water-skiing hall-of-famer Jim Rusing.

The elephant learned a number of other tricks and was sold to a Michigan elephant performance team in 1967. Queenie joined Circus Gatti in 1981 and retired at Wild Adventures in 2001.

Dane said she had lost track of the elephant for many years until she and her son tracked Queenie down in 2005 and they were reunited.

"When we saw it was safe for me to go into the enclosure, she put her trunk on my face and on my arm, and soon she appeared content and was rumbling, which is kind of like an elephant's version of a cat purring," Dane said.

"You hear an elephant never forgets," she said. "It's true."

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