Keepers and staff at Whipsnade Zoo are in mourning after the death of a young elephant calf.
A week long battle to save 20 month old Max ended on Friday, when he died of the elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV).
Raised levels of the EEHV virus’ DNA were found in Max’s blood during routine checks on May 28 and ZSL’s team of vets worked tirelessly day and night administering specialist drugs, and transfusing blood from a healthy adult in the herd into Max to try to stop the progress of the virus.
Max’s death has left ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s keepers, some of whom worked closely with Max and the herd, deeply saddened.
David Field, director at the Zoological Society of London, said: “We are very sad to lose Max, who was a real character and had been a wonderful addition to the herd for the last year and a half.
“We know Max will be sorely missed, by visitors and by the keepers who worked so closely with him.
“Elephants are sensitive and social animals so our first priority is now to make sure that the rest of the herd are able to return to the comfort of their regular routine as soon as possible.”
EEHV is a highly fatal disease which claimed the life of another young elephant at Whipsnade in May 2009.
One-year-old Donaldson died just two days after falling ill.
Mr Field added: “Our ZSL vets, scientists and keepers are working hard, through collaborative work with other zoos and veterinary institutions worldwide, to research treatments and find a cure for EEHV, for the benefit of elephants around the world, including those in the wild.”
Max was born at 5am on October 12 2013 to second-time mum Karishma, measuring three feet tall and weighing in at a hefty 129.5kg.
His birth was recorded for ITV documentary The Zoo.
The calf added to Whipsnade Zoo’s European Endangered species Programme (EEP) for Asian elephants.