More tears as dawn arrived on the morning of the 8th October 2013, for we lost tiny one month old “Empaash” just after midnight, when he suddenly had difficulty breathing, and passed away. Rescued from a well in the Amboseli Conservation Area his survival was already compromised upon arrival since he had ingested a lot of water before being extracted, and was passing muddy watery stools.
We had difficulty stabilizing his digestive tract exacerbated by the usual teething problems, but he managed to push out 3 of his first 4 initial molars just prior to his death. The colour of his stools was improving after a course of oral Sulphadimidine, as was his appetite during the night of his death, but he had been left extremely weak, and could not stand unaided in order to take his milk feeds. We can conclude therefore that his death was as a result of having ingested into his lungs, as well as his stomach, well water and mud, damaging his lungs as well as his digestive system, exacerbated by the usual life threatening very rapid loss of condition and strength during the teething period of captive elephants. (The first molars have to cut a channel through the gums and erupt between the age of 1 and 4 months) when newborn elephants, who are fragile at the best of times, become even more so.