Health fears over zoo's elephant

A FEMALE elephant which was rescued from the circus seven years ago to begin a new life at Colchester Zoo is suffering from serious health problems, it has emerged.

By Danielle Nuttall

A FEMALE elephant which was rescued from the circus seven years ago to begin a new life at Colchester Zoo is suffering from serious health problems, it has emerged.

Rosa was one of three elephants rescued from Chipperfield's farm in 2000.

She arrived at Colchester Zoo with male, Tembo, and female, Opal, and has since seen a massive transformation of her life.


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But after giving birth to Jambo in 2004, Rosa showed signs of discomfort, particularly whilst passing urine.

A team of international experts was assembled to investigate her symptoms including the zoo's consultant veterinary surgeon, Dr John Lewis.

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An examination under anaesthetic revealed Rosa had polyps in her vestibule (entry to the reproductive system) and evidence of scarring in the vagina that may affect the nerves in the pelvic area.

The veterinary team concluded that surgery was not a viable option and Rosa was given painkillers when she appeared to be in discomfort.

During the following months, however, the discomfort reached a point where Rosa was on a permanent pain relief programme.

Recently keepers have reported that the pain relief treatment is no longer proving as effective as it once was and further observations indicate that her condition is worsening.

Rosa must now be examined for a second time under anaesthetic where experts will then decide whether there is a surgical procedure that can be carried out with a good chance of success, or sadly euthanasia.

In a statement, Colchester Zoo said last night: “To put any animal to sleep is a hard decision but it becomes especially difficult when dealing with such a large, intelligent, and well-loved animal as Rosa. “However, the combination of the observation of the keepers, the previous poor prognosis from the veterinary experts, the reduction of effectiveness of her pain relief and her obvious discomfort, all point to a very guarded prognosis.”

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