The morning of january 5th a call came in to alert the Trust of a near drowning victim, a 3 weeks old baby elephant found near the Mogor river. He had been swept by the raging waters and when he reached dry land he was completely shocked and confused and started walking in the direction in which he could hear the sounds of cattle. The cattle belonged to a masaii herdsman who was very surprised to find a baby elephant among his cows. He fed him some milk and decided to walk to the nearest KWS ranger station 15 km away. The little elephant baby followed him all the way and was transported in the back of a jeep to the nearest airstrip where the rescue plane could pick him up.
As soon as Kilgoris had arrived in the nursery it was obvious that his stomach was very upset as a result of having ingested the cows milk. The usual protocol was followed and because he had ingested both water from the river as well as the cows milk he was given an extra heavy dose of antibiotics. Of course he also got the emergency cocktail of meds from the practice and very soon he started to get better.
He soon started playing with the other nursery babies and even though he too suffered from the expected depression he was doing very well. The moment the balance started to tip was when he started pushing out 3 big molars and pretty soon his stools started to get too loose.
Suddenly he refused his milk and it became obvious that the situation was getting very serious. Several antibiotic cures followed which brought no relief.
The lab results showed an e-coli infestation and a very heavy antibiotic aimed at the bacteria was given to him. Around this time swabs came to Amsterdam and the test indicated that we might be dealing with a viral infection. When he started having blood in his stools and the inside of his mouth showed ulcerations everybody started to fear for his life. But little Kilgoris did not give up yet and what followed were the longest most heart wrenching twelve days and nights in which he fought until there was no more fight left in him and finally in the night of March 22nd he slipped through our fingers and died in the arms of his favorite keeper.
Meanwhile I had contacted Dr. Marja Kik from the veterinary department of the university of Utrecht, section infectious diseases. She was immediately prepared to help and try and find out what had happened with little Kilgoris who by this time had died. She suspected an infection of a herpes virus could have been the cause especially because of the ulcerations in his mouth, and this could be dangerous for any new babies that might come into the nursery, but because no autopsy had been done there was no material for her to do any research on.
A while later two other slightly older nursery elephants, Zurura and Lesanju suddenly had swollen glands of which they both soon recovered. Marja Kik is debating and consulting with a colleague from the Rotterdam Zoo if it would be an idea to do the research on blood serum of one of these two. The sending and testing of material from endangered wild species is not so easy however and bound by very strict CITES regulations.