An orphan from the Masai Mara, Asanje was 18 months old when she came to us on the 8th October 2013, as usual at that age emaciated and weak, having been without the milk of her elephant mother for some time. But, she calmed quickly and by the 15th has recovered sufficiently to be allowed out of the Taming Stockade to join the other Nursery elephants browsing out in the bush each day, until what turned out to be a fateful day at month end on the 30th October, 2013.
That day, Asanje left her Night Stockade as usual, seemingly healthy and happy. She suddenly began to swell around her neck, act extremely strange revolving in circles in one direction, seemed to lose her sight and have laboured breathing. The keepers walked her back to the stockades with great difficulty as she was close to collapse. By the time Angela was called there was little time, and cortisone was administered IV. This calmed things down in time, but she remained without sight. The explanation to for her loss of sight, given by a Specialist Animal Eye Veterinarian was swelling of the brain behind the optic nerve, caused by an extreme toxic insult. She suggested that Asanje’s sight would return, which, in fact, it did over the ensuing weeks. But other complications continued over the following months. She was constantly given close veterinary care, and we were extremely hopeful that we were over the worst by the beginning of the year, so much so that Asanje was placed on the fostering program.
But as the weeks past Asanje showed worrying signs once more, too weak to get herself back on her feet in the early mornings without assistance from her Keepers she chose to sleep on her feet leaning against the stockade walls. A large swelling formed on her forehead which turned out to be an abscess, and when lanced yielded copious quantities of pus, but swellings on her under-belly and chin returned and remained. She continued to enjoy her milk feeds, still ventured out each day returning form more cut greens placed inside her stable, but her life force was obviously failing. She lost the battle for her life during the early hours of the morning of the 30th January 2014.
Asanje fought her ailments valiantly and bravely for so long, and her passing devastated us all, for we, too, had battled long and hard to save this precious elephant life, and really thought at the beginning of the year we had turned the corner. It was not to be, and the only comfort we glean is that she died surrounded by much love and care. But, what could have caused the sudden anaphylactic seizure at the end of October 2013 that triggered all Asanje’s subsequent health issues, will always remains an unsolved puzzle. At first we suspected snake bite, but there was no evidence of puncture wounds to verify this assumption. The post-mortem revealed little else other than pale body organs, and a noticeable lack of blood accounting for the chronic anaemia that had long plagued her. Samples have been sent for further analysis and we await those results. Asanje will be sorely missed, and we all feel privileged to have known her.