Third elephant in a month dead at Zurich Zoo

Two adult elephant and a baby in front of people, animal news
People watch elephants at Zoo Zurich, Switzerland, June 6, 2020, credit: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

The five-year-old female Asian elephant Ruwani has died from herpes at Zurich Zoo in Switzerland, the zoo said on Saturday. Ruwani is the third elephant to die from the virus at the zoo within a month.

She died Saturday morning after succumbing to Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV). The virus can cause a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease. Young Asian elephants are usually affected by EEHV because their immune systems haven’t developed enough to make antibodies to fight it.

On July 11, the eight-year-old Asian elephant Omysha died at the same zoo from the virus. Her two-year-old brother Umesh died at the end of June from the virus. They lived with their mother Indi and sister Chandra.

The zoo said Ruwani was given anti-viral drugs to protect her and showed no signs of illness until Friday. “Losing a third elephant to this dreaded virus in such a short time is a tragic loss for Zurich Zoo,” zoo director Severin Dressen said.

Ruwani was kept in an area at the zoo with her mother Farha and grandmother Ceyla-Himali. The zoo said there was a low disease risk for the remaining elephants, although staff will monitor all the animals.

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