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The baby elephant dies 27 days after his birth in St. Louis Zoo



The male calf lived only 27 days and had developmental disorders that limited his ability to give birth, said St. Louis Zoo in a statement Sunday.

He was killed and “killed peacefully” Sunday morning, according to the zoo.

The calf was close to his mother, Rani, since he was born on July 6, and after weeks of life support measures by the elephant care team, his health deteriorated rapidly over the weekend.

“Everyone here is just ruined right now,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, MD, CEO of St. Louis Zoo in a statement. “Our team of professional elephant care experts did everything to improve the calf’s health. Unfortunately, in the end it was not enough because his health complications were too serious.”

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The zoo’s veterinary team will perform a complete necropsy on the elephant and the results will not be available for several weeks, the statement said.

Even though the elephant only lived less than a month, the team that cared for him had been preparing for his birth for three years, as he was part of an ongoing project to continue his species. Elephant pregnancies take about 22 months, according to the statement.

His mother Rani was bred with a male elephant named Raja, the first Asian elephant born in the zoo. Their breeding was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan, a national cooperative breeding and management program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Asian elephants in North American zoos.
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There are less than 3,500 Asian elephants left in the wild and they are being exterminated due to ivory shear and habitat destruction, according to the zoo’s statement.

“The animal care team that worked so closely with this calf every day of its short life, and all those who loved it, sadly understand,” Luis Padilla, DVM, vice president of animal collections, told the Saint Louis Zoo in a statement. “Avi will be missed, but never forgotten.”


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