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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Zoo is responding to its latest attack from PETA. The animal rights group claims the zoo failed to properly care for a 3-month-old elephant calf that later died.

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That elephant calf went by the nickname of “Baby” and died after she was separated from her mother, Seeni.

PETA obtained two previously unreleased U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspection reports that call into question the care the baby elephant was given. PETA said the zoo and its facility for elephants in Somerset County were understaffed and unable to properly care for the animals.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

PETA went on to say that the USDA noted that Seeni was lactating several days after the birth and suggested that she may have bonded with her baby had she been given more time, contrary to the zoo’s claims that she’d rejected her and wasn’t producing milk.

“The Pittsburgh Zoo was utterly unprepared to care for this sickly calf properly, and it put her on display instead of giving her the best chance at survival in her mother’s care. The zoo failed both Seeni and her calf, and this is exactly why PETA has called for an end to its archaic elephant program,” PETA’s Foundation Deputy Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, Rachel Mathews said.

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According to our news partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Zoo CEO Barbara Baker said filing the complaint was, “just for show.

Now, PETA is urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to suspend the Endangered Species Act permit that it issued earlier this year allowing the Pittsburgh Zoo to import semen from an elephant at a zoo in Canada.

In response, officials with the Pittsburgh Zoo said:

  • We do not currently have a permit application for elephant semen.
  • The report PETA references is an old report. This is not the USDA’s final report related to the elephant calf – this form is a preliminary report which was amended following the completion of the investigation.
  • The care and welfare of all animals is a top priority at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We are confident that every decision we made was in the baby elephant’s best interest and we exhausted every option available.

The 3-month-old elephant was euthanized in August of last year.

Born prematurely on May 31, 2017, at the zoo’s conservation facility in Somerset County, Baby weighed only 184 pounds. The Pittsburgh Zoo staff worked tirelessly to help her get to a healthy weight over 200 pounds, but, for some reason, the calf could never gain any weight.

Officials consulted with experts around the world before making their final decision, and the calf was surrounded by her caregivers and passed peacefully.

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