ST. LOUIS (NewsNation) — The Saint Louis Zoo now knows why a one-month-old elephant had to be euthanized after having a difficult time eating shortly after birth.
Avi, their young male Asian elephant, was born in July, but had to be euthanized in early August after he was struggling to be fed by his mother.
The zoo said a preliminary necropsy, animal autopsy, found the elephant was born with two birth abnormalities that could not be reversed. Avi’s major vessels connected to his heart were compromised and he had a spinal issue, NewsNation affiliate KTVI reported.
Avi’s abnormal blood flow was caused by a heart defect that remained open after birth. The Patent Ductus Arteriosus caused blood to not go to his lungs to aid in proper oxygen levels. PDA is uncommon and hard to diagnose in large animals.
The zoo said Avi’s abnormal spine also limited his range of motion in his neck and head, making it hard for him to position himself for feedings on his own.
“Everyone here is just devastated right now,” Zoo CEO Jeffery P. Bonner said in a statement shortly after he was euthanized. “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 mother, Rani is healthy according to the Zoo’s Elephant Care Team.
The Asian elephant is considered to be endangered by the World Wildlife Fund. There are believed to be fewer than 50,000.