The baby elephant born in Somerset County has passed away Wednesday, according to Pittsburgh Zoo officials.
“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 calf started teething a few weeks ago and was not eating the proper amount of food. She was born premature, and every pound was important.
Zoo officials made the decision to insert a feeding tube last week so keepers and veterinary staff could provide her with the necessary nutrients and vitamins her body needed.
Initially, she responded well to the feeding tube, but her weight did not pick up consistently.
The decision was made to euthanize the calf, and zoo officials said she passed away peacefully surrounded by her family of dedicated zookeepers.
“When the calf did not gain weight, we began to suspect a genetic abnormality or some type of malabsorption syndrome that the calf was born with, that did not allow her to absorb the nutrients as she should. The veterinary team will be doing a full necropsy, which will hopefully shed some light on the problem,” said Dr. Baker.
Results of the necropsy will not be available for several weeks.
The zoo said it consulted with elephant experts from all over the world while caring for the calf. She was born prematurely at 615 days, opposed to the average gestation of 645 days.
At the time of her birth, she weighed 184 pounds, which is 52 pound less than the average for a newborn calf.
The elephant’s mother rejected her and did not have milk to give her, so she was then taken into the zoo’s care.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.