ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The ABQ BioPark reports that the zoo’s 8-year-old elephant Jazmine has died from elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). Last week, the BioPark reported that Jazmine had tested positive for EEHV. According to a news release, the BioPark provided round-the-clock treatment since the virus was first detected in her bloodwork on Dec. 28.
Jazmine’s brother Thorn died on Christmas Day as a result of the virus.
“The BioPark’s elephant experts and veterinary teams did everything in their power – and then some – to help Jazmine,” said Stephanie Stowell, ABQ BioPark Director in a news release. “And Jazmine matched their efforts every step along the way. True to her strong-willed nature, Jazmine fought valiantly against the disease.”
To provide round-the-clock care for Jazmine, the BioPark received help from medical and elephant experts from across the country, including specialists from the St. Louis Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Houston Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Fort Worth Zoo, Denver Zoo, African Lion Safari, the Elephant Managers Association and the National Elephant Herpesvirus Lab at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
“There really is nothing we wouldn’t do for them and at the end of the day, she fought as hard and for as long as she could and her body just couldn’t hold out any longer,” said Bob Lee, associate director for the BioPark.
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Officials say that Jazmine didn’t test positive for EEHV when it resulted in the death of her sister Daizy back in 2015. Elephants both in the wild and in human care can get EEHV and zoo officials report that all elephants can carry EEHV in a latent state throughout their entire lives.
The BioPark says Jazmine’s death is particularly painful because she was on a carefully planned path to becoming an elephant matriarch. She spent her entire life learning from her mom, Rozie. “She was getting to the age where she could have a calf of her own. Growing in a social environment like she did best prepared her for that. She would’ve been a great mother,” said Lee.
Jazmine’s calf would have helped grow the BioPark’s herd as well as helped other zoos start their own elephant care programs. “If nothing else, it just doubles down our commitment to that. We remain committed to being a breeding facility for Asian elephants. We look forward to raising more calves in the future,” said Stowell.
While that timeline is still up in the air, BioPark officials say Jazmine and Thorn’s untimely deaths could still help the Asian elephant population. There are now only three elephants at the BioPark. Staff says because the virus primarily targets the young, the rest of the herd is safe. They will however be monitored closely and tested weekly.