Houston Zoo vets save baby elephant in emergency surgery 1 hour after birth

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Zoo veterinarians took a 326 pound Asian elephant into emergency surgery an hour after birth Tuesday morning.

Twenty-nine-year-old Shanti gave birth to Nelson, and almost immediately staff members noticed he was hemorrhaging severely from his umbilicus.

They later found that he tore a vessel in his umbilical cord during birth. A 30-minute procedure was done to find the torn vessel, stop the bleeding and close the hole in his abdomen.

All the while, the team also worked quickly to collect blood from the rest of the herd in case Nelson needed to have a transfusion.

Nelson and Shanti were reunited after surgery. He was soon standing and walking on his own and began to nurse before the day ended.

The team said it is optimistic he will make a full recovery as Shanti and he will continue post-natal exams and spend several days bonding before they join the rest of the herd.

"We are extremely proud of our dedicated, skilled and experienced elephant and veterinary teams who were thoroughly organized and ready to respond to whatever our new calf needed," said Lisa Marie Avendano, vice president of animal operations at the Houston Zoo. "We look forward to continuing to watch Nelson and Shanti bond and introducing him to Houston."

Shanti is now the mother of six.

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