A zoo’s long-awaited baby Asian elephant had to be put to sleep at just three weeks old after he was born with a disability that stopped him from feeding. The elephant calf, called Avi, was euthanized at St Louis Zoo in Missouri on August 2 after numerous attempts to save him proved unsuccessful.
Ravi, who was born to one of the zoo’s elephants called Rani on July 6, was hand-fed by staff and hooked up to intravenous treatments to try and boost his health. But after his health began to rapidly decline at the end of July, zoo staff realized it would be kinder to put the animal down.
Zoo president Jeffrey Boner and CEO Dana Brown said afterward: ‘Everyone here is just devastated right now. Our team of professional elephant care experts did everything possible to help improve the calf’s health. Unfortunately, in the end, it just wasn’t enough as his health complications were too severe.’
Staff at the zoo had hoped to deliver a baby elephant for three years before Avi finally arrived. There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, with the creatures facing threats including ivory poaching and habitat destruction.
Zoo staff tried desperately to save Avi, but their attempts to do so proved unsuccessful (Picture: St Louis Zoo)
Avi with his mother Rani. Zoo staff had spent three years hoping and preparing for the arrival of a baby elephant (Picture: St Louis Zoo)
St Louis Zoo vice president of animal collections Luis Padilla said Avi’s death had hit workers there extremely hard.
Padilla explained: ‘The animal care team who worked so closely with this calf every day of his short life, and all those who loved him, are understandably grieving. Avi will be missed but never forgotten.
‘The community followed Rani’s journey from pregnancy to birth and provided support and positive thoughts for the calf and the Elephant Care Team when they learned of the calf’s developmental and health impairments.
‘ The outpouring of support that we have received from the community has been incredible. I know everyone joins us in our sense of loss, and that helps our team get through these difficult times.’