A three-month-old elephant calf, born one month early and who had failed to thrive, has died at the Pittsburgh Zoo, officials there announced Wednesday.
The unnamed elephant was born May 31 and had problems from the start. Its 23-year-old mother, Seeni, rejected her. But zoo officials surrounded her by other, more nurturing elephants, hand-fed the baby milk and it began to put on weight.
The baby was doing so well it was put on view to the public in July. But then teething issues appeared, with the calf getting four new ones at once, making feeding difficult again.
Despite inserting a feeding tube, the elephant began to lose weight. Zoo officials made the hard decision to euthanize her Wednesday. In a tearful press conference, the zoo’s CEO Dr. Barbara Baker noted that the death was especially hard because the animal had a boisterous personality.
“You know, she was a feisty calf and she had a lot of fight,” Dr. Baker said. “So we fought to help her gain weight. We knew when we put the feeding tube in that this was our last chance.”
A necropsy has been ordered. Zoo officials think a birth defect may have been keeping the elephant from growing.