ABQ BioPark Zoo elephant fights illness

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Thorn is a three-year-old Asian elephant who has called the ABQ BioPark Zoo home all of his life.

Recently, there’s been concern for the young elephant after he tested positive for Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV).

"The virus is latent in all elephants, both in the wild as well as those that are in human care, they all carry it," said Stephanie Stowell, director of the BioPark. "We don’t know what activates it."

Younger elephants are more susceptible to the virus, and it can even be deadly. EEHV can quickly impact an elephant.

Back in 2015, the BioPark lost a five-year-old elephant to the virus.

"We’re seeing Thorn progress in the disease in a way that we would expect to," Stowell said. "That is the positive way of saying that he is getting sicker, but we’re not seeing any surprises from him in terms of the trajectory that the virus is taking."

Alongside daily blood tests and antiviral medication, Thorn is being closely monitored for symptoms and changes in behavior.

"We know that it could very well not have a positive outcome and it could just as well have a positive outcome, we just don’t know right now," Stowell said.

BioPark officials are hopeful that young Thorn will recover. They’re also closely monitoring the zoo’s other elephants.