Chester Zoo has confirmed today that an Asian Elephant calf has tested positive for the life-threatening endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV)
Two-year-old Indali Hi Way is being treated for EEHV which almost always proves fatal.
Last October three-year-old Nandita Hi Way and 18-month-old Aayu Hi Way – two much-loved members of the zoo’s close-knit family herd of rare Asian elephants – both tested positive for the fast acting EEHV and died shortly afterwards.
EEHV is known to be present in almost all Asian elephants, both in the wild and in zoos across the globe, but only develops into an illness in some elephants.
Pic I took a couple of days ago, @chesterzoo has another crisis with the Elephants, @chestertweetsuk @ChronSallie @DeesideDotCom I was at the zoo today and the elephants were closed to the public, expecting bad news soon. pic.twitter.com/MauIoPVzbJ
— @photo: Dale Miles (@photoDaleMiles) March 21, 2019
Chester Zoo’s director of animals Mike Jordan said:
“Mike Jordan, collections director at the zoo, said: “Although it was such early stages and Indali looked happy in herself, we couldn’t take any risks due to the fast-acting nature of the virus and began treatment immediately.”
Experts are treating Indali with blood plasma transfusions and anti-viral medications.
“The odds are stacked against us, but we have never been more hopeful,” Mr Jordan said.
Relatively little is known about EEHV. As well as those recorded in zoos, conservationists have discovered fatalities in at least seven countries across the Asian elephant range in the wild – India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia (Sumatra) and Myanmar.
Currently there is no vaccination against it but researchers are working to create a treatment that trains an elephant’s immune system in what to look for.
Chester Zoo scientists – backed by more than £220,000 of public donations, a major partnership with The University of Surrey, and an international collaboration of conservationists, have made real progress in the fight to find a cure – but sadly the battle is ongoing.