Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembering Mac

It rained all day. It was as if Mother Nature was crying over the loss of another of her beloved creatures. Mac, the Houston Zoo's two year old Asian elephant died the evening of November 9.

Mac was special. He must have been put on earth to bring a smile to everyone's face. It was a job he took willingly and with lots of gusto! A trip to the zoo meant the first stop was to see Mac.

Playful and mischievous there was never a dull moment around Mac. Watching Mac eat a watermelon was a real treat. He loved them. When he was finished, there was nothing of the watermelon left.

We have some wonderful memories of Mac. I've added my tears to those of Mother Nature's. Mac was easy to love. He brought a lot of joy into the world and he will be missed. The pictures here were taken by Mr. Dragon on our many visits to the zoo.

Here is the press release from the Houston Zoo:

"Mac, the Houston Zoo’s 2 year old Asian elephant whose mischievous nature endeared him to thousands of Zoo guests died last night following a brief struggle with the elephant herpesvirus.

We are aware how important Mac has become to our family of Members, Donors, Volunteers, Guests and the entire Houston community and we know that you share in our grief. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Houston Zoo and shown an amazing amount of affection for Mac in his two years at the Houston Zoo.

The Zoo’s veterinary medical team immediately began administering Famciclovir, an antiviral medication that has shown some limited success in past elephant herpes cases. “Veterinarians administered two doses of Famciclovir over a period of about 7 hours. The early indications were encouraging. Mac’s appetite rallied and he took some water. Despite the early intervention and the best efforts of the Zoo’s keepers and veterinary staff, Mac passed away at approximately 8:30 last night with his mother Shanti and his Aunt Methai at his side. The keepers and vet staff gave Shanti and Methai time alone to mourn Mac’s death.

Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is a recent discovery. The virus was identified in 1995 by researchers at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Many animals and humans carry herpesviruses throughout their lives and never become sick. For reasons not fully understood, herpesviruses can come out of latency and circulate through the bloodstream. Most elephants are able to fight the virus and survive when it comes out of latency. Calves appear to be most susceptible to the virus after they have been weaned.

Herpesviruses are not limited to elephants in zoos; herpesviruses are found in wild elephants. In fact, wild elephants in Asia have died from EEHV. The Houston Zoo, the AZA, the International Elephant Foundation and other zoos and institutions are supporting the effort of the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory at the Smithsonian National Zoo on testing and treatment for the disease that will contribute to the long-term survival of the species in both zoo and wild populations.

There is no cure for herpesvirus in animals or humans. It is only when an elephant is demonstrating clinical illness that zoos are able to detect the EEHV virus in blood or tissue. There is not yet a direct test to detect elephant herpes virus in a healthy animal with a latent (hidden) infection.

Mac was born October 1, 2006 at the Houston Zoo and set a birth weight record for Asian elephants – 384 pounds. Playful, intelligent, curious and mischievous, Mac quickly became a favorite of Zoo guests and staff alike. Mac enjoyed interacting with his keepers and proved to be a good student, learning more than 30 “behaviors,” activities that provided exercise for him and gave his keepers the tools they needed to care for him.

We understand that Mac’s passing will have a significant impact on our entire Houston Zoo family and we share in your grief. Thank you for your love and support of Mac, and the Houston Zoo elephant family."

1 comment:

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

So sad to read your post about Mac. Not living in your area means I never saw him but I can only imagine the joy he brought and now the sorrow. I've read that elephants grieve deeply. How hard it must be for Mac's mother and aunt. I must admit that I can't get past the idea of birthing something that weighs 384 pounds.