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Staff rescues aging elephant who fell overnight at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Posted at 8:38 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 13:21:41-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Staff members at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs rescued an aging elephant who had fallen on its side during the night.

According to a post on the zoo’s Facebook page, zoo staff doing an overnight check Monday morning noticed Malaika, a 33-year-old African elephant, was lying on her side, which can be fatal for elephants.

"If an elephant is down for any length of time, and that's usually a couple hours before things start to go badly," said Matt Johnston, a Colorado State University veterinarian. "Because you can imagine you're looking at a 4-ton animal. So if she's lying on her side, which is an awkward and unnatural position for an elephant, the weight of her organs and the fat in her body press down and cut off blood supply to vital organs."

Staff used a specialized crane-and-hoist system in the barn to help the elephant to her feet. The rescue effort required the help of more than 20 staff members and teams from the Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Broadmoor Fire Department, the post read.

According to the zoo, Malaika has a history of not being able to get back up from lying down, and had to be rescued once before last year.

Because of Malaika’s history, zoo staff will monitor her throughout the day and with checks every two hours overnight, according to the Facebook post.