Ohio zoo announces Asian elephant calf dies following ‘sudden illness’

An Asian elephant born to the Columbus Zoo in Ohio in early December has died, zoo officials announced Wednesday.

The elephant, a female, succumbed to a “sudden illness,” zoo officials said in a news release.

“The calf was being monitored 24 hours a day by members of her care team. She was observed nursing overnight, but at 6:30 a.m. she appeared sluggish. The veterinary team determined she had an infection and administered fluids, antibiotics, and blood plasma from her mother, Phoebe,” the zoo said in the news release, noting the 3-week-old animal “appeared to rebound and nursed before her health rapidly declined again.”

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A necropsy, an animal autopsy, will be performed on the elephant to better determine the exact cause of death. But the results won’t be available for “several weeks,” the zoo said.

“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,” Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf said in the news release. “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 elephant, which had not yet been named, was born on Dec. 6.

ASIAN ELEPHANT BORN AT OHIO ZOO WAS CONCEIVED VIA ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION, OFFICIALS SAY

The calf was the first elephant to be born at the zoo in nearly 10 years, The Columbus Dispatch reported at the time.  Phoebe, a 31-year-old Asian elephant, conceived the calf after she was artificially inseminated with sperm from two different male elephants. It's not yet clear which fathered the calf.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.