Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium’s elephant calf dies at age 2

SOMERSET, Pa. — The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium is mourning the loss of a beloved elephant calf who died unexpectedly.

The zoo said Tsuni died Thursday after a sudden, brief battle with elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). Her EEHV was detected through routine blood testing on Feb. 8, even though she presented no visible clinical signs.

EEHV is a prevalent, challenging disease that has plagued elephants, both in human care and in the wild. Younger elephants are at the highest risk, from birth to age 8, with an 85% mortality rate, the zoo said.

“Tsuni held a special place in the hearts of staff and visitors alike,” said Zoo President and CEO Dr. Jeremy Goodman. “Her loss is devastating to our entire zoo family. Her ability to fight through her early life medical challenges had been such an inspiration to everyone that worked with her. She will be terribly missed by everyone here as well as elephant lovers all over the world.”

Tsuni was 2 years old and lived with her herd at the International Conservation Center (ICC) in Somerset.

The other adult elephants in the ICC herd have sufficiently built up EEHV antibodies as they have aged, so they are at low risk to this disease, the zoo said.

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