OKLAHOMA CITY – It was a surprising loss that stunned animal lovers across the Sooner State.
Hours after interacting with her herd, 4-year-old Malee, an Asian elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo, took a turn for the worse.
“Malee passed away due to a viral infection,” said Jennifer Dagostino, director of Vet Services. “It’s EEHV1 for short. The virus exploded and got very, very high numbers and, at that point, there is very little you can do.”
Staff at the Oklahoma City Zoo say they were so heartbroken over the loss of Malee and how long it took to diagnose viruses in elephants.
Now, they have a strategy to keep this from happening again.
On Tuesday, the zoo announced that they’ve ordered a device called a PCR Machine.
It is designed to quickly and accurately detect viruses in animals, giving zoo vets a head start for treatment even before symptoms appear.
“Having that in house will allow, would then allow us to have results back in three to four hours instead of 36 to 48. That is really critical because we can instrument treatment much earlier,” D’Agostino said.
When the machine is operational in November, the Oklahoma City Zoo will be the only zoo in the United States that does in house testing outside of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.