The 19-year-old elephant that underwent the first-ever Cesarean section on a pachyderm 10 days ago was much worse Wednesday after an encouraging first week of recovery, according to an official at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Veterinarians on Wednesday discovered that Jean, a 7,000-pound African elephant, is suffering from peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal cavity, according to Tom Hanscom, a park spokesman. Hanscom said large swelling has developed at the site of Jean’s 2-foot-long incision. She is also critically dehydrated and has stopped eating or drinking fluids.
“Our elephant has taken a rapid turn for the worse,” Hanscom said, adding that the prognosis is “not good. We’ve initiated last-ditch procedures.”
He said that, in exotic animals, infection sometimes is impossible to detect until it is serious.
Park veterinarians are fighting the infection with a stronger antibiotic, Hanscom said. But this one is “rough on the kidneys, so it’s all the more important that we hydrate her” intravenously, he said.
Doctors are also administering a morphine derivative to sedate Jean, who was 70 days overdue when doctors removed a 300-pound dead calf that had become stuck during preliminary birth contractions.