Sadness as Whipsnade baby elephant dies

Vets and keepers fought in vain to save calf

There was sad news at Whipsnade Zoo this week, when little baby elephant Donaldson, pictured, died just two days after falling ill.

Keepers noticed that the one-year-old male calf seemed off-colour during routine morning checks on Thursday, April 30.

Vets carried out a follow-up investigation and found that the calf was showing early symptoms of a virus which only targets elephants.

Donaldson was given drugs straight away to fight the infection, known as elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), along with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication.

His treatment was continued day and night for the next 48 hours, and he was also given a blood plasma transfusion from his mother, Azizah. But the baby elephant could not be saved, and died at the weekend.

A zoo spokesman said: "Sadly, despite the magnificent efforts of vets and keepers, Donaldson died early on Saturday.

"A post-mortem carried out that day confirmed that he had EEHV, as suspected. Zookeepers and veterinary staff are understandably devastated by his loss."

Donaldson was born on January 17 last year, and was a popular member of Whipsnade's Asian elephant herd.

Now the herd has six adult elephants, one male and five females, and two calves, four-year-old male Euan and two-year-old female Leelee.