Young Elephant Dies Suddenly From Herpes, Taronga Zoo Staff 'Heartbroken' (File)

The zoo said'This is an extremely sad time for all who loved and cared for her particularly our elephant team whom she shared a special bond with

The zoo said'This is an extremely sad time for all who loved and cared for her particularly our elephant team whom she shared a special bond with

A fast-moving and deadly virus has claimed the life of one of Taronga Zoo in Sydney's endangered Asian elephants called Tukta.

The zoo posted to Facebook explaining that Tukta began showing symptoms of illness on Monday morning and passed away later in the afternoon.

In a statement, the zoo said the virus is present in nearly all Asian Elephants, both in the wild and in zoos, "however it only causes illnesses in some young elephants and when it does is nearly always fatal". According to the zoo, elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) occurs in "almost all Asian Elephants both in the wild and in zoos", only sometimes causing illness in young elephants.

"Despite the swift action of everyone involved, she tragically lost her fight against the virus later that afternoon".

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Taronga Zoo director Cameron Kerr said staff were devastated and that the herd would mourn the loss for several days. The zoo's spokesman said there were no plans as yet for a memorial or grave site for Tukta.

'This is an extremely sad time for all who loved and cared for her, particularly our elephant team whom she shared a special bond with'.

"The decision to make a veterinary intervention is always made quickly where necessary, and Tukta was receiving the best care and expertise available in Australasia".

She was the third of six elephants born in the program at Taronga.

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