After taking a turn for the worse, Pittsburgh zoo staff were concerned for a baby elephant's health after she was born prematurely on June 6.
The young female nicknamed "Baby" was experiencing teething pain which led to an erratic eating pattern that stopped her from gaining weight.
“It’s an intense pain,” she said. “When we talked to the wildlife trust, they said this is a very critical time, that this is when they lose the most calves. When they’re teething.”
While this behavior is normal in young elephants, baby at Baby's small size of 184 pounds, every pound counts for the calf. The average weight of an elephant baby of her age is 220 pounds, and instead of gaining weight, she has lost 15 pounds since her birth.
“We are very much concerned about losing her. It would be very hard on the staff to lose her. Because really, all of our friends, all of our staff have been very involved with her. She’s just a really neat animal. She really is,” Barbara Baker, president of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
Heading into surgery, zoo staff said that the next 24-48 hours were critical for the young elephant.