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Dickerson Park Zoo Elephant's Health in Serious Condition
Aug. 9, 2013
Dickerson Park Zoo's veterinarian and zookeeper staff have initiated treatment for one of the zoo's elephant cows. The elephant, "Connie" (known by the local community as "Pinky") is estimated to be 50 years old and is Dickerson Park Zoo's oldest elephant. The median life expectancy for an elephant cow is 46.9 years.
As part of routine husbandry, zookeepers draw blood from the elephants. For the past few years, Connie's kidney values for creatinine (blood waste generated by muscle metabolism) and BUN (bloodurea nitrogen) have steadily increased. While urea nitrogen levels in particular tend to increase withage, in March, Connie's kidney values showed dramatic increases.
Also, Connie has experienced considerable weight loss. A healthy weight for elephant cows her age is approximately 7,500 pounds. Connie's weigh fluctuates between 6,200 and 6,500 pounds.
"Connie's blood values indicate progressive kidney disease," said Dr. Erica Lipanovich, staff veterinarian. "We are administering warm water enemas twice a day to help her kidney function andgiving her antibiotics to fight off any secondary infections that might develop."
Zookeepers are attempting to stimulate Connie's appetite by finding more palatable hay and limitingstarches and sugars which can aggravate her gastro-intestinal tract.The animal care staff hopes to conduct an ultrasound on Connie to visualize the condition of her kidneys and better determine the extent of the kidney disease. However, the prognosis for Connie is quite guarded. She is not expected to recover from the kidney disease.
Connie came to Dickerson Park Zoo in November 1981 from the Abilene, Texas, Zoological Gardens.She was wild-born and became an important part of Dickerson Park Zoo's internationally recognized elephant management program through the 1980s and 90s. Her first pregnancy, in 1985, resulted in a stillborn calf. Her second calf, Kate, was born in 1991, and died in 1993 from what was later identified as the elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). Her third calf, Asha, was born in February 1995; Asha resides at Oklahoma City Zoo.
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Melinda Arnold, Public Relations Director
Dickerson Park Zoo is a division of the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA).With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.