Saint Louis Zoo’s elephant calf dies 27 days after birth

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KTVI) – The male Asian elephant calf born July 6 at the Saint Louis Zoo was euthanized and “passed away peacefully” Sunday morning.

The zoo said their elephant care team worked hard to care for the calf, but he “had developmental impairments that limited his ability to feed since birth.”


“Everyone here is just devastated right now. Our team of professional elephant care experts did everything possible to help improve the calf’s health,” Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., CEO of the zoo, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in the end, it just wasn’t enough as his health complications were too severe.”

Despite extensive efforts to help the calf thrive, the zoo said he did not improve and his health “deteriorated rapidly” over just 48 hours.

“The decision to humanely euthanize the calf was made and he passed away peacefully,” the zoo said.

The keepers named him Avi (pronounced AH-vee), meaning “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,” Luis Padilla, DVM, vice president of animal collections for the zoo, said in the statement. “Avi will be missed, but never forgotten.”

His mother, Rani, was near her calf “at every minute,” the zoo said.

Rani was bred with an elephant named Raja, the first Asian elephant born in the zoo.  Avi was her third calf.


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