“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,” Baker said. “But they also warned us that sometimes the little calves can’t recover from the weight loss and they pass away as a result.”
At the time of the calf’s birth, she weighed 184 pounds, 52 pounds below average. Her mother rejected her and had no milk, so the orphaned calf was taken in by the zoo and fed elephant milk and an African elephant formula while in its care.
“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,” Baker said.
Results of the necropsy will not be available for several weeks, the zoo said.
The baby elephant had gone through surgery and had a feeding tube inserted last week. The day after surgery, the elephant was up and moving around and was being fed every four hours. Over the weekend, officials said that she had taken a walk and her “feisty personality” had begun to return.
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