Zoonotic tuberculosis is a risk for human health, especially when animals are in close contact with humans. Mycobacterium tuberculosis was cultured from several organs, including lung tissue and gastric mucosa, of three captive elephants euthanized in a Swiss zoo. The elephants presented weight loss, weakness and exercise intolerance. Molecular characterization of the M. tuberculosis isolates by spoligotyping revealed an identical profile, suggesting a single source of infection. Multilocus variable-number of tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) elucidated two divergent populations of bacteria and mixed infection in one elephant, suggesting either different transmission chains or prolonged infection over time. A total of eight M. tuberculosis isolates were subjected to whole-genome sequence (WGS) analysis, confirming a single source of infection and indicating the route of transmission between the three animals. Our findings also show that the methods currently used for epidemiological investigations of M. tuberculosis infections should be carefully applied on isolates from elephants. Moreover the importance of multiple sampling and analysis of within-host mycobacterial clonal populations for investigations of transmission is demonstrated.