At the St. Louis Zoo, a 27-day-old elephant that was born with developmental impairments that restricted his power to feed since he was born has died.
It was a male Asian elephant, named Avi, that was born to his mother Rani on July 6. However, after intensive care and life support efforts, such as support with feedings and treatments, the elephant care team decided to euthanize the baby elephant after its health got worse over the previous two days.
"Everyone here is just devastated right now," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D. and Dana Brown, the president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo in a statement on the zoo’s website. "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."
Avi's care team said that they prepared and were excited to welcome his arrival for almost three years, and decided to name him Avi which means "the sun and air".
"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," said vice president of animal collections at the Saint Louis Zoo. Luis Padilla, "Avi will be missed, but never forgotten."
As per the St. Louis Zoo, there are less than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild and the species is facing extinction because of issues like poaching for ivory and habitat destruction.
According to the zoo, Avi was Rani's third baby elephant, as she gave birth to Jade in 2007 and Kenzi in 2011. Kenzi passed away at the age of 7 in 2018. Their father, the 27-year-old Raja, was the first Asian elephant to be born at the St. Louis Zoo in 1992.
“An elephant pregnancy lasts about 22 months and a newborn weighs about 250-350 pounds,” the zoo’s statement read. “Rani received regular prenatal health checkups by the zoo's elephant care team throughout her pregnancy.”