"Avi will be missed, but never forgotten."
A baby Asian elephant, barely 27-days-old, has reportedly died after struggling with health problems since the day he was born. According to PEOPLE, the elephant, named Avi was born on July 6 with developmental impairments. The calf was humanely euthanized after the zoo's elephant care team of experts and veterinarians attempted to nurse the calf to full health. He "passed away peacefully" Sunday morning, according to the zoo, reports CNN. Zookeepers said that the calf's mother, Rani, 23, was beside him round the clock while the staff tried their best to save the little one.
Rani shared the offspring with Raja, a 27-year-old bull elephant. Avi's developmental impairments limited his ability to feed since birth, and despite intensive care efforts and life support measures, his condition just did not improve. In the final two days before Avi's death, his health deteriorated rapidly, reports zoo officials. "Everyone here is just devastated right now," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President, and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo, according to a Press Release. "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."
The keepers named him Avi (pronounced AH-vee), 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 Luis Padilla, DVM, Vice President of Animal Collections, Saint Louis Zoo. "Avi will be missed, but never forgotten." "The community followed Rani's journey from pregnancy to birth and provided support and positive thoughts for the calf and the Elephant Care Team when they learned of the calf's developmental and health impairments," said Dr. Padilla.
"The outpouring of support that we have received from the community has been incredible. I know everyone joins us in our sense of loss, and that helps our team get through these difficult times," added Dr. Padilla. When the zoo announced the calf's birth in July, they said it was the first time in 27 years that a male Asian elephant was born at the facility. "Rani and baby are doing very well," Tim Thier, director of the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation, said in a press release at the time. "We’re thrilled to welcome Raja’s first son into our three-generation elephant family."
People were upset to hear about Avi's passing. Kari Jennifer Foran shared on Facebook: All of my city was excited to finally get another male elephant. We have all watched Raja grow up. This is devastating for our city. Truly sad. Nicole Huffman added: It was the first male elephant we had born in our zoo since the 90s. Our city was so excited. Alisha Michaylo added: This is so heartbreaking. Made me teary-eyed. Just knowing how familial these magnificent creatures are, you just know mama's heart is as broken as anyone of ours would be. Mike Laura Moore posted: Sorry for the loss of this baby; very sad for the mom and your people.