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Baby elephant who died had birth defects, Zoo says

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Zoo says a baby elephant died due to “significant, irreversible birth abnormalities.”

The Asian elephant calf Avi was born July 6, and officials immediately found he had trouble feeding. His health was rapidly deteriorating by early August, and he was euthanized on Aug. 2.

The zoo said Thursday that a preliminary necropsy revealed that Avi had a patent ductus arteriosus, an opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart that should have closed by birth. A statement from the zoo said the defect meant that some blood does not go to the lungs, prohibiting proper oxygen levels.

Avi also had an abnormal spine that made it difficult for him to raise his head “and position himself to feed on his own.”

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