The Pittsburgh Zoo was forced to euthanize its baby elephant Wednesday morning after the calf stopped eating.
‘Our hearts are broken, it’s just devastating, said Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. ‘She touched so many people in such a short time. We did everything we possibly could to care for her, but unfortunately in the end, it just wasn’t enough.’
The little elephant was born prematurely on May 31. She weighed only 184 pounds., 52 pounds below the average African elephant calf weight.
Scroll down for video
A baby elephant at the Pittsburgh Zoo passed away Wednesday morning after refusing to eat
The baby elephant had round-the-clock care by zoo employees after she was rejected by her mother
She was given a feeding tube when she started teething, but didn’t gain enough weight to survive
Baby elephant makes her public debut at the Pittsburgh Zoo
When she was born, her mother had no milk which caused her to reject the calf. Zoo staff cared for the elephant 24 hours a day since her birth.
Her mother is a 21-year-old elephant named Seeni. She is one of three the zoo rescued from Botswana in 2011.
The zoo staff were able to teach one of the adult female elephants to allow them to hand milk her, and the calf was fed elephant milk as well an African elephant formula.
However, when she began teething she could no longer eat properly. She was given a feeding tube, but failed to gain enough weight to survive.
‘The humane decision to euthanize the calf was made and she passed away peacefully surrounded by her family of dedicated keepers,’ a press release from the zoo said.
Average gestation for a female African elephant calf is 645 days, and this calf arrived prematurely at 615 days.
The zoo consulted elephant experts from all over the world in the fight to keep the baby alive.
‘When we spoke with them, they assured us that it was a normal occurrence for calves who are teething to not have an appetite and to lose weight,’ said Dr. Baker. ‘But they also warned us that sometimes the little calves can’t recover from the weight loss and they pass away as a result.’
‘Our hearts are broken’ Pittsburgh baby elephant is euthanize
The zoo talked to elephant experts all over the world in efforts to keep the baby alive
The baby’s mother was rescued by the zoo from Botswana in 2011
The calf’s mother is a 21-year-old elephant named Senni rescued from Botswana in 2011
Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium said it was the humane decision
‘It was the humane decision to euthanize this calf. We knew when we inserted the feeding tube this was her last chance,’ Baker said in a press conference.
The medical team will perform a full necropsy to see if the baby had a genetic abnormality that prevented her from gaining weight.