Kerala elephant that cut cake to celebrate b'day dies

Kerala elephant that cut cake to celebrate birthday dies

Veterinary doctors who conducted the postmortem examination ruled out Covid as a cause of death

Elephant calf 'Sreekutty' celebrates its first birthday by cutting a cake made of rice and ragi at Kerala Forest Department's Elephant Rehabilitation Centre at Kotoor, about 30 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram. Credit: File photo/Special arrangement

An elephant calf in Kerala, that was in the news after its first year of survival was celebrated with a cake cutting by the state forest officials died on Monday, following a brief illness.

'Sreekutty', as it was named by the forest officials, came under the care of forest officials when it was just around one month old. The chances of survival of the newborn outside a forest environment was very remote and that was why the forest officials celebrated its first birthday, or rather the first year of its survival, in last November.

However, by Sunday the elephant calf, which was at the forest department's Elephant Rehabilitation Centre at Kottor on the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram, developed fever and drowsiness, and died by Monday. With the exact cause of death yet to be diagnosed, forest officials assume that the calf could have been suffering from some genetic inferiority and that could be why its parents abandoned it.

Thiruvananthapuram wildlife warden J R Ani told DH that though efforts were made to send the calf back to the forest, it was not accepted by the elephant herds. Now it is assumed that the elephant could have been suffering from a genetic inferiority and it would have been difficult for it to survive in the forest. That could be why it was not accepted by the elephant herds.

Since at least 25 staff at the rehabilitation centre recently got Covid infection, there was a fear whether Sreekutty was also Covid victim. However, veterinary doctors who conducted the postmortem examination ruled it out. It was suspect that it could be due to herpes virus infection, said Ani.

The elephant calf was hardly one month old when it was spotted in a weak condition at an estate close to the forest areas of Thenmala in Kollam district in November 2019 with wounds and bruises and leg injury. It was suspected to be washed away from its parents owing to the heavy waterflow in the river. Since the chances of survival of the elephant calf outside the forest was remote, the forest authorities kept it at the spot itself for couple of days with hopes of its parents coming in search of it and taking back to the forest. But with no response from parents even after a few days, it was brought to the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre. A special forest like enclave was set up and it was fed with glucose, lactogen, B-Protein and ragi.

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