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Munich baby elephant first to get heart surgery

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Munich baby elephant first to get heart surgery
Photo: DPA
06:00 CET+01:00
A baby elephant in Munich will be the first in the world to undergo heart surgery, after vets at the zoo realised she had a congenital defect which will kill her within weeks if nothing is done.

“This is the only chance the little on has to survive,” said Christiane Reiss, spokeswoman for Hellabron zoo.

Keepers first thought the three-month-old elephant had a cold when she seemed to be tired and short of breath in December – but tests revealed her heart defect which has resulted in a dangerous blood clot in part of her heart.

She was drinking only water – but keepers have been milking her mother and feeding her with it by hand.

A team of vets and surgeons who usually work on people is being assembled to tackle what will be a complicated operation – and the first in the world carried out on an elephant.

“The operation will be carried out primarily by an interdisciplinary team of heart surgeons, cardiologists and anaesthesiologists from the University of Munich with expertise in human and animal medicine,” said Reiss.

It's still not clear when the surgery will take place – workers are currently fixing up an on-location operating room for the procedure.

“Lola is showing she still has the will to live, although she is very sick,” said zoo Director Andreas Knieriem, promising not to put her down.

He admitted the operation might not work, but said everyone involved was determined to try to save Lola.

“If what will specialists say will certainly be a difficult operation offers us the only hope, we will attempt the surgery in order to save Lola's live. We have all fallen for her.”

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mdm

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