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The News We All Feared For Melbournes Baby Elephant Is Here

An infant elephant born unable to stand has died at Melbourne Zoo. Asian elephant calf Willow had been under constant care since her birth seven weeks ago but succumbed to a blood infection late on Monday.

Asian elephant calf Willow had been under constant care since her birth seven weeks ago but succumbed to a blood infection late on Monday.

"Our team could not have done more for Willow to keep her comfortable while making every possible effort to pull her through," zoo director Kevin Tanner said in a statement on Tuesday.

The birth on June 15 went smoothly. However, the calf was born with a rare congenital flexion of both wrist joints, leaving her unable to stand.

That, in turn, affected her ability to nurse from mother Num-Oi and forced zoo staff to feed Willow with a predominantly artificial formula.

Bottle-feeding Asian elephants rarely succeeds, zoo staff warned in the weeks after Willow's birth.

Willow then contracted a blood infection a fortnight ago that proved difficult to control.

"While she showed a good response to antibiotic therapy in her general demeanour, the infection unfortunately localised in her chest and limb bones," head vet Michael Lynch said on Tuesday.

"It became evident yesterday that the infection in her bones had progressed to a point where lasting damage had occurred." Melbourne Zoo says it will allow mother Num-Oi the chance to grieve.

Num-Oi's only other calf, Sanook, died before his first birthday after a freak accident in 2013 with a favourite toy.

AAP

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