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'Could not fight any longer' | Elephant at Dallas zoo dies from infection

Ajabu was nearly 7 years old when he died of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus.

DALLAS — A nearly 7-year-old African elephant has died following a 12-day battle with a viral infection, the Dallas Zoo announced Tuesday. 

The elephant, Ajabu, died Monday evening of elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV). Ajabu had previously faced the infection in March 2021 and survived, the zoo added. 

EEHV is carried by elephants both living in the wild and in human care, the zoo said, and it's believed nearly all elephants are either born with the infection or exposed to it shortly after birth. 

"It is an all-too-often lethal disease that is most often diagnosed in Asian elephants and has begun to show up more often in African elephants, like our own," the zoo stated. "Your Dallas Zoo is involved in a multi-institutional research initiative aimed at studying and combating this destructive virus and we diligently monitor our herd for the virus with proactive testing."

The zoo found Ajavy's slightly elevated EEHV viral load through that testing on April 27. He didn't show any physical signs or symptoms of EEHV but the team began immediate, aggressive treatment to stem the virus' progression. 

"Despite the round-the-clock care and heroic efforts of his animal care and veterinary teams over the last 12 days, along with support from zoo teams across the country, Ajabu laid down in the barn on the evening of Monday, May 8 and simply could not fight any longer," the zoo said in a statement.

Ajuba was part of the Dallas Zoo's rescue of five Swaziland elephants in 2016, along with his mom, Milo. 

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