In a sad turn of events this week, a baby female Asian elephant calf from Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium passed away after coming down with a sudden illness. A public statement issued by the zoo claims that the passing transpired at about 1:30 P.M. on Wednesday.
Image Credit: Columbus Zoo
Veterinarians assigned to care for the calf say she became lethargic at around 6:30 A.M. and that she exhibited all the signs of an infection. Teams reportedly worked around the clock to try and nurse her back to health with antibiotics, blood plasma, and fluids with no avail.
“At only a few weeks of age, this little calf had already won our hearts. She was a cherished member of our Zoo family, and we are mourning her passing,” commented Columbus Zoo CEO Tom Stalf.
“I have the privilege of working alongside amazing, compassionate and dedicated animal experts. Our team is going through an exceptionally difficult time with our recent unrelated losses, and we are appreciative of the outpouring of support we receive from near and far.”
The late calf was the first baby elephant born at Columbus Zoo in over a decade and was the result of an artificial insemination attempt. The father elephant has not yet been identified.
The mother, a 31-year old Asian elephant named Phoebe, delivered the calf less than three weeks ago on December 6th. She was so young that she didn’t even have a name yet, but zoo staff fell in love with her nevertheless.
As you might come to expect, the zoo wants more answers about the unexpected death. A full necropsy is being planned to determine what caused the young calf to die; however, the zoo doesn’t expect to have the results of the procedure for “several weeks.”
Making the situation even more difficult is the fact that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognizes Asian elephants as an endangered species on its Red List of Threatened Species.
Poachers frequently target Asian elephants, and continued land development encroaches on their natural habitat. Given the unfortunate circumstances, recent estimates suggest that there could be fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the world.