Second BioPark elephant tests positive for viral illness

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An 8-year-old female elephant is the second to test positive for EEHV at the ABQ BioPark Zoo.

Jazmine tested positive for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, which claimed the life of her 3-year-old brother, Thorn, on Christmas Day.

Jazmine was frequently tested for the virus following Thorn’s Dec. 15 positive test. The virus was detected in her Dec. 28 and treatment immediately began.

BioPark officials do not know if Jazmine and Thorn are carrying the same strain. They stated the elephants each react differently to the virus.

Despite the unknowns, ABQ BioPark Zoo Director Stephanie Stowell said the zoo is not concerned for the other four full-grown elephants or the rest of the animals there.

"We are in this from birth to death with every animal that is in our care, and there are going to be times where there are things outside of our control that will step in, and we will have to do our very best to respond," she said.

Earlier this year, the zoo lost several primates to the Shigella virus. It’s still not clear how the virus got into the zoo, but Stowell said they were able to get a handle on the situation and prevent it from taking any more lives.

Stowell said the community is also finding ways to pitch in.

"We’ve had, just today, had a young boy drop off a letter for Rosie, who was Thorn and Jasmine’s mom, so sweet," Stowell said.