Munich baby elephant first to get heart surgery

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.

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