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It is with great sadness we have to communicate the loss of little Shujaa
It is with great sadness we have to communicate the loss of little Shujaa. In the early hours on the 8th of November he peacefully slipped away.
Shujaa's first month at the Nursery was positive, with him gaining condition during that time. But three weeks ago it became clear the dreaded teething process had begun, with his stools smelling different, with that all too familiar teething smell that we brace ourselves for, and despite feeding well his condition began to decline. He lost weight, his gums swelled and he became dull, but he managed in this time to push out three molars with the fourth swollen and sensitive. Throughout he was supported with intravenous drips from time to time in an effort to maintain his strength and hydration levels, and he was monitored closely. More recently blood tests revealed that despite an absence of infection his liver was beginning to fail. We were able to consult a number of local vets and visiting vets from abroad, and everyone tried their level best to save this precious life.
It is heartbreaking for everybody when ones best is not good enough, but no one feels it more than the Keepers who have dedicated twenty four hours a day of tender loving care in an effort to succeed. Raising infant elephants is extremely challenging, and cannot be compared to raising any other species. We see it in a very concentrated way, with so many coming into our care over the years. They are extremely fragile animals in their infancy and particularly when the conditions are not ideal, coming in with much trauma and stress without the nutritional support of their elephant mother's milk and all the miracles that brings to sustaining life. While we have had success throughout the years, we still loose far too many during this very difficult time, and it is obvious that in nature and mothers milk there must be an ingredient that compensates for the teething process that is absent when they are hand raised on a formula which is far from ideal.
Medication in infant elephants we have learnt is always best left to a minimum as they react so negatively to it, with their sensitive digestive systems easily compromised. Curiously some suffer more than others through teething, with some paying the ultimate price as was the case with precious Shujaa.