Columbus Zoo Says It Found No Obvious Errors In Four Animal Deaths

Dec 28, 2018

The Columbus Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its newest additions. The yet-to-be-named female Asian elephant calf was less than three weeks old when she unexpectedly died from an infection. 

Two giraffes died after a complicated birth earlier this month, and another died a few weeks prior. 

Dr. Randy Junge, vice president of animal health at the zoo, says they conduct a de-briefing after every animal death or significant health event.

"We look over every aspect of the cases to see what we could have done differently or better, or do we need more staff or more equipment, or what would have changed this," Junge says. "And we certainly did that with all three of these cases."

Junge says that they found no obvious errors that contributed to the deaths.

"In retrospect, there's no single event in any of these cases, that we thought, 'If this had happened, this would have been differently,'" Junge says.

Junge says the zoo also has an external review board comprised of veterinarians and animal experts that looks over such cases.

"Not so much a formal review, but an exchange of information: here's what we did, what other perspectives are there, are there things we could have done differently, are there any suggestions of what we might do in the future," he says.

In the meantime, Junge says everyone at the Columbus Zoo is devastated by the loss.

"The keepers and the veterinary staff basically pour their lives into these animals. Especially something like the elephant calf. You know the elephant gestation is two years. I knew this calf well before she was even born," he says. "Then we saw her every day of her life up until the day she died. So it's about as close as you can get to an animal, and about as much of a member of your family as an animal can be."

On Thursday, the zoo announced it would give a name to the deceased Asian elephant calf: "Ellie." The name was chosen from a majority of 44,000 votes submitted by the public.