Veterinarians at Copenhagen Zoo euthanised a two-year-old elephant name Khao Zoo on Monday night. According to the zoo’s website, the young elephant was suffering from a herpes virus called Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpes Virus (EEHV).
“The disease is found both in the wild and in zoos worldwide and is impossible to guard against,” said the zoo in a statement. “Over half of the elephant calves born in the US and Europe are infected with the virus, and 90 percent of those will die.”
Elephant keepers at the zoo discovered on Monday morning that that Khao Sok had become ill. Vets were called, who diagnosed the calf with the deadly EEHV virus.
Several treatments were tried, but the elephant’s condition had deteriorated so much by Monday night that the decision was made to euthanise.
Khao Sok most likely contracted the disease from his mother or another elephant in the herd.
Adult elephants can live with the virus in the same way that people live with cold sores. The condition flares up without causing serious illness.
Young elephants become susceptible after they stop nursing and are no longer receiving antibodies from their mother’s milk, but are still to young to fend off the ill-effects of the virus.
The disease occurs typically in young elephants between the ages of two and five years old.