Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Firemen to the rescue

Elephant ache draws attention from beyond Alaska

May 15, 2007

A veterinarian said colic or a bellyache may be to blame for weakening Maggie the elephant, whom firefighters hoisted to her feet after she couldn't stand on her own Sunday.

Anchorage firefighters used straps and a winch to lift Maggie on Sunday evening after she had lain down between 10 and 19 hours at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. The compressed weight of the animal's bulk could have caused breathing and other problems, or even have killed her.

The incident renewed calls for the 25-year-old African elephant to be transferred somewhere where she can exercise more and be around other elephants.

"It's time to get her out of Alaska," said veterinarian Elliot Katz, president of the San Rafael, Calif.-based In Defense of Animals. "The longer the wait, the more this unnatural and abusive environment will cause severe damage to her feet and joints, until it becomes irreversible."

Zoo officials said the 7,500-pound elephant seemed fine Monday and is walking around and eating normally. Blood tests are under way to determine what led to the incident, said zoo director Pat Lampi.

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