Sunday, March 01, 2009


News About Jade
The Saint Louis Zoo's youngest Asian elephant, Jade, seemed a bit lethargic to the elephant care staff on Sunday, February 8, 2009. She was immediately put on anti-viral treatment for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). A blood sample submitted to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park's elephant herpes research laboratory Monday, February 9, showed the presence of herpesviral DNA.

Zoo veterinarians and curators are conferring with EEHV experts across the country to help Jade fight this virus.

What is Jade's condition Friday, February 27?
The Saint Louis Zoo continues to see signs that young Asian elephant Jade is responding to treatment for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV.) Nineteen days have passed since Jade first began treatment for the disease. "Her appetite is normal, her attitude is great. She really does seem to be on the road to recovery," said the Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Martha Fischer. Fischer cautioned that Jade is by no means out of the woods, but indicated that the zoo is encouraged by the progress she has been making in the past week. Jade celebrated her second birthday on February 25.

Meanwhile, the Zoo's other calf, Maliha, continues to do well despite also having tested positive for EEHV. While Maliha's test results confirmed the presence of the virus in her system, she has not shown any clinical signs of the illness. The team of curators, veterinarians and zookeepers looking after Jade and her herdmates continue to monitor all the elephants closely.

The Zoo got some more positive news late on February 26 when test results on all of its adult elephants revealed no trace of EEHV.

The Zoo has received an outpouring of support from all over the country in response to Jade's and Maliha's battle with EEHV. Because so many people have asked what they can do to help, the Zoo has established a fund to support EEHV research.

Fischer credits ongoing research with helping Jade and her caregivers battle this illness. The cutting-edge care that Jade is receiving and to which she now seems to be responding is the direct result of the cooperative multi-institutional research effort that has been underway for years to study EEHV and find a cure.

"Our zoo is just one of many in North America that has been actively participating in this research since before Jade and Maliha were even born," said Fischer. "Jade, Maliha and their caregivers owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the International Elephant Foundation for facilitating this research and to the talented and dedicated scientists working so hard to unravel the mysteries of this disease. Every day we are learning more about EEHV and how to defeat it because of this commitment."

"She's one tough little girl," said Fischer. Zoo staff members have been living with Jade 24/7 since Jade was first diagnosed with EEHV. "I can't say enough about the dedication of our keepers and our veterinary staff," said Fischer. "They are warriors in Jade's cause. Every day they re-commit to helping Jade kick this herpes virus to the curb for good."

She is an excellent patient, taking all of her medications and cooperating fully with her caregivers in her treatment. The Zoo wishes to thank its visitors, staff, volunteers, and the community at large for the outpouring of support it has received for Jade and those working so hard to save her.

When will Jade be out of the woods?
That is not something we can predict at this time. We are taking it one day at a time, working around the clock to give her the best and most cutting-edge treatment. Every day that she remains stable is in her favor. We are in constant contact with the leading authorities on herpes virus diseases. Jade has the best team in place working to get her through this illness.

EEHV has been the cause of death in both wild elephants and zoo elephants. It is a recent discovery, identified in 1995 by researchers at Smithsonian National Zoo and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Since its discovery, the virus has been identified in elephants in the U.S., Europe and in Asia.

Historically, this herpesvirus most frequently occurs in elephants younger than seven years old. There is no vaccination available. The Saint Louis Zoo is involved in a multi-institutional research project through International Elephant Foundation to learn more about EEHV and develop a cure.

*updated February 27, 2009

Jade's Get Well Card

It's All About Family
Jade was born on February 25, 2007, the first baby born to Rani and the second for Raja, the baby's father. Raja was the first elephant ever born at the Saint Louis Zoo. Another daughter of Raja, Maliha, was born to Ellie on August 2, 2006.

Throughout her illness, Jade has been with big sister Maliha, grandmother Ellie and mother Rani to lend her nurturing support.

"Our elephant care staff and veterinary staff are deeply committed to caring for Jade round-the-clock," said Martha Fischer, curator of mammals. "They are doing everything possible to see her through her illness."

A Global Effort
The Asian elephant is facing extinction in the wild. There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. The Saint Louis Zoo cares about elephants in zoos and in the wild. We are actively involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for Asian elephants, a national cooperative breeding an management program. Every year the Zoo supports the welfare and conservation of the Asian elephants in Sumatra, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia, as well as the conservation of African elephants in Kenya.