Sad news from the Oklahoma City Zoo, 4-year-old elephant, Malee, died early Thursday morning. A necropsy, which is an autopsy performed on animals, is now underway to determine what caused her sudden and unexpected death.
It was around bath time Wednesday morning, when the elephant keepers noticed Malee acting a little sluggish, a little tired, and not her usual self. Unfortunately, her symptoms continued to progress throughout the day and she passed away early Thursday morning.
Overcast skies reflected the somber mood at the Oklahoma City Zoo as staff and even the elephants mourn the loss of "Malee."
She was the first elephant calf to be born at the zoo four years ago.
Staff noticed something different about Malee Wednesday morning, and by the afternoon, they took her to get checked out.
“They brought her in did a close examination and at that point they noticed some discoloration in her mouth which was of concern,” said Dwight Lawson, Oklahoma City Zoo Executive Director.
Malee's cause of death has yet to be determined, but the staff suspects she died from the elephant herpes virus.
It's unclear how Malee may have contracted the virus. But Lawson says most elephants in the wild and in captivity are exposed.
“We have specific protocols to treat and intervene in case we were concerned which were implemented in this case,” said Lawson.
Staff gave Malee two rounds of treatment, but she passed away around 4 a.m. Thursday morning.
Elephant keepers are keeping a close eye on the other elephants, but zoo staff doesn’t believe Malee's death is connected with an outbreak.
“It's just a shock to lose an animal like that, that's part of this really amazing elephant family that was growing here,” he said.
The zoo has set up a memorial page for Malee where you can share your favorite memories and times visiting her at the Oklahoma City Zoo.