A baby elephant died at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Dec. 6. She was the first baby elephant born there in nearly a decade.
Photo: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo
Photo: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo

Moments that left animal lovers heartsick in 2018

Recent news of the death of a newborn elephant at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium left zoo staff and visitors devastated. 

“At only a few weeks of age, this little calf had already won our hearts. She was a cherished member of our zoo family, and we are mourning her passing,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Stalf. 

The female calf was born Dec. 6, the first elephant born at the zoo in nearly a decade. 

She appeared “sluggish” Wednesday morning and veterinarians determined she had an infection. Despite being treated with fluids, antibiotics and blood plasma from her mother, Phoebe, the calf died Wednesday afternoon Dec. 26. 

>>RELATED: Newborn elephant dies from sudden illness at Columbus Zoo

The death of the baby elephant isn’t the only news that left animal lovers heartbroken this year. 

Ubumwe, a female Masai giraffe calf born Oct. 30, died Saturday morning. (Photo: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)

It’s been a difficult few months at the Columbus Zoo. In November, a female giraffe calf named Ubumwe died at the Columbus Zoo less than a month after it was born. 

Zoo officials said in a series of Facebook posts that Ubumwe had been energetic and nursing well in her first two weeks, and weighing an estimated 130 pounds. But she began experiencing “gastrointestinal discomfort”, leading to multiple tests and treatment. 

An ultrasound showed an abnormality of the bowel, but after receiving intensive care from the zoo’s animal care professionals, Ubumwe appeared comfortable, according to the zoo’s statement. 

By the next morning, the Masai giraffe calf had deteriorated, and she passed away. 

Thousands of people had followed Ubumwe’s birth and first weeks, watching via the online “Giraffe Cam” through National Geographic. 

Another giraffe at the zoo, Cami, died four days after an emergency Cesarean section delivering a calf in December at the Columbus Zoo. The calf, who vet staff said had serious congenital defects, also died. 

>>RELATED: 18-day-old giraffe suddenly dies at Ohio zoo

Henry the hippo rests on top of his daughter, Fiona, in summer 2017 in the hippo cove at Cincinnati Zoo where mom Bibi also lives. Henry died this year.

In October, the father of the Cincinnati Zoo’s famous Fiona died. 

Henry the hippopotamus was 36 years old and had been struggling with health issues for months and lost hundreds of pounds, according the zoo. 

“The blood work from Henry’s last exam gave us some hope that he was on the mend, but his appetite never returned and his condition declined rapidly. Vets and his care team worked tirelessly to keep him comfortable and help him fight this illness. Nothing — antibiotics, favorite foods, extra TLC — seemed to turn his condition around,” said Christina Gorsuch, Cincinnati Zoo’s Curator of Mammals. “We are all so sad to lose him. Everyone loved him. He was a sweet, gentle giant with a big personality. He enjoyed interacting with his caregivers.” 

>>RELATED: Henry the hippo, father of Fiona, euthanized after chronic illness

Flyer, a baby bald eagle that hatched at Carillon Historical park in April, was struck by a delivery truck while attempting to cross the interstate. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER

Closer to home a rare opportunity to watch a baby eagle grow up turned tragic. 

Flyer, an eaglet born at Carillon Historical Park, died in July less than a week after taking her first flight. The 87-day-old eagle was struck by a delivery truck while attempting to cross Interstate 75 in Dayton. 

The novice flew across the highway from the north riverbank area and attempted to land but missed her perch. She then flew back across the highway to the north riverbank, but she was too low, and was struck. 

>>RELATED: Parents of baby bald eagle killed by a truck have returned to their nest

Rajeev the Burmese python, one of the longest-living animal residents at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery has died. BOONSHOFT MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY

One of the longest-living animal residents at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery Zoo died in October. 

Rajeev the Burmese python lived at the museum since 1991 and was popular with visitors. 

“Rajeev, who was 28 years old, was a favorite for many visitors ranging from toddlers to seniors, and he will be missed,” said Stephanie Hyklinski, the curator of live animals. 

The python was named after Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, who today is the President of Global Vaccine Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. As a Fairborn High School student, Dr. Venkayya worked at the museum and helped care for the animals. 

The average lifespan for pythons under human care is 20-25 years and 15 years in the wild. He weighed 155 pounds and was almost 16-feet long.

>>RELATED: Beloved Boonshoft Zoo animal has died

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