Elephant calf dies at the St. Louis Zoo from viral infection

ST. LOUIS, MO – A 6-year-old Asian elephant calf has died at the St. Louis Zoo. Kenzi was diagnosed with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus in February. EEHV is a viral infection shown to be fatal to elephants. She immediately started receiving anti-viral medication and round-the clock care after the diagnosis, but died Saturday.

They posted this message for their Facebook fans:

“With a heavy heart, the Saint Louis Zoo has said goodbye to Kenzi, a 6-year-old Asian elephant calf who was the daughter of Raja and Rani. She died earlier today, succumbing to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) — a viral infection shown to be fatal to wild elephants and elephants in human care. This is a devastating loss for Kenzi’s family, the elephant care team and the St. Louis community.

We detected the disease through our regular blood tests even before she became symptomatic and we did everything we could to save her. While we have successfully treated EEHV before, Kenzi fought as hard has she could, but ultimately was not able to rally in this case.

We appreciate your thoughts and support”

The St. Louis Zoo says that they are monitoring all of their elephants for EEHV. At this time, no others are testing positive. Historically, this herpesvirus most frequently occurs in elephants younger than seven years old. As such, the Zoo is providing prophylactic treatment to 4-year-old Priya and will continue to conduct regular testing.

The Zoo’s elephant care team successfully treated 11-year-olds Jade and Maliha for two different types of EEHV-1 on two separate occasions.