(photo credit: )
Yossi, an African elephant and one of the main attractions of the Ramat Gan Safari, attacked and killed Atari, another elephant living in the same pen, close to closing time Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Yossi, who at seven tons is one of the largest zoo elephants in the world, charged Atari, 46, and slammed her into a wall - killing her. The two have lived together since 1974, when Yossi was born. Atari was considered one of the more dominant elephants in the herd, and Yossi grew up with her as the dominant elephant.
"It is like a domestic murder," said Itzik Franko, head elephant caretaker. While there was no clear motive for Yossi's attack, speculation was that Yossi, the dominant male, became threatened by Atari - the dominant female. Safari veterinarians say that the act might have been caused by the fact that it is currently mating season for elephants, which caused Yossi to act in a more aggressive manner.
Yossi's size and power were too formidable for the keepers to stop the attack.
"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," a member of the safari staff said.
At the time of the incident, five other elephants - three female and two male - were in the den, but safari keepers managed to gather the elephants in their sleeping area to reduce chances of additional violence.
In the next few days, safari staff will consult veterinarians from around the world in an attempt to understand the incident.
"It was a death in the family," Franko said.
Atari has been buried in the animal cemetery inside the safari, and Yossi has been kept in isolation since the attack.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.