Asian elephant Yunha dies of herpesvirus in Dutch zoo

Asian elephant Yunha dies of herpesvirus in Dutch zoo
Photo by Christine Donaldson on Unsplash

At the beginning of this week, the 3-year-old Asian elephant Yunha died in the Dutch zoo DierenPark Amersfoort. The days before her death, Yunha suddenly seemed to feel less fit.

A blood test showed that she had elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). The virus is deadly for young Asian elephants. Veterinarians and the caretakers of the zoo tried to save her, but she still passed away. She died in the presence of her herd.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, the zoo is closed. People can see the animals via webcams. The webcam showing the elephants is temporarily turned off to give elephants the most normal grief process.

The natural grieving process of elephants means that they stand around the deceased elephant to say goodbye. When the herd is ready, caretakers will get the body of Yunha.

Dangerous virus
EEHV is a very dangerous virus for elephants under eight years old. After the first symptoms, an elephant often dies within 24 hours. In most cases, it is too late to save an elephant. So far, there’s no vaccine against this virus.

The virus is responsible for half of the deaths of young elephants in zoos, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

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