Chester Zoo say they are 'devastated' to announce the death of one of their young bull elephants.
The tourist attraction could not hide their sadness as they announced the passing of Hari Hi Way who was being treated by zoo vets due to concerns detected in his daily blood tests.
Despite the best efforts of teams involved in his care, the condition of the elephant who was almost three, deteriorated and he died late on Tuesday afternoon (October 27).
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A zoo spokesperson who described the news as 'terrible', said the exact cause of Hari’s death will be determined by a post-mortem examination but confirmed he tested positive for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a fast-moving virus which affects both wild and captive elephants between the ages of two and five years old.
There is currently no vaccine against EEHV, although research is ongoing.
This news comes six weeks after the zoo anounced the death of female calf, Bala, who also had traces of EEHV. Staff carry out daily blood testing of the elephant herd and, as soon as the first traces of EEHV were detected in both Bala and then Hari, the teams began early treatment using anti-viral medication.
Sadly though, both treatments ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.
Mike Jordan, Chester Zoo's collections director, said: "We’re absolutely devastated by the news. Hari was a much loved member of the herd and was well known for his playful, sometimes mischievous antics. He’ll be hugely missed.
"Our veterinary and keeping teams caught the virus at the earliest possible stage and did all they could to help him try and fight it. These events are desperately, desperately sad for everyone involved.
"EEHV is a terrible virus which affects young elephants typically around weaning age. In many elephants it can lie dormant and undetectable and never develops into the disease but others are susceptible to it – currently no one knows why some elephants get it and others don’t."
He added: "For many years we’re funded vital research into EEHV but researchers have yet to be able to culture the virus which is necessary to create a vaccine and determine what drugs are most effective. At present, drug treatment is effective in only around one-third of cases and survival rates overall are around 20%.
"We have a responsibility to do everything we can to understand this disease in order to have a chance of eradicating it, both in zoos and, crucially, in the wild. Asian elephants are endangered and it’s hoped that the work being done in captivity will hold the key to unlocking the information researchers need to make a positive breakthrough."