Young Pygmy Elephant Fondly Known As 'Toothie' Put To Sleep After Prolonged Suffering

The elephant was nicknamed Toothie because of the condition it suffered.

  • Cover image via FMT

Earlier this week, the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) had to euthanise an eight-year-old endangered pygmy elephant after rescuers failed to nurse it back to health

According to The Star Online, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew said that the elephant had an abscess, a bacterial infection that causes a painful collection of pus, on its lower jaw and was unable to close its mouth.

"We cannot prolong its suffering any longer. The best decision is to put it to sleep," Minister Christina said, as reported by The Star Online. 

Image via FMT

For three months, the elephant, who was nicknamed Toothie because of the condition it suffered, was treated at Borneo Elephant Sanctuary in Kinabatangan

On 10 April, tests carried out by a veterinary team and a human dental specialist showed that Toothie was suffering from a severe fracture of the lower jaw, FMT reported.

"Releasing the animal back to the wild was rejected as an option as it would not have been able to feed and sustain itself. Instead, it would have contributed to a slow, painful death," she said in a statement issued yesterday, 12 June.

Due to cost factors and the slim chances of success, surgery to correct the elephant's jaw was also not an option.

Liew added that throughout the three months, SWD had spent about RM30,000 on a special diet and nursing care for the elephant. 

Image for illustration purposes only

Image via NST

Authorities believe the eight-year-old elephant was involved in an accident when it was rescued from the Sabah Softwood Plantation in Sandakan back in March

At that time, the elephant suffered injuries including to its head and jaw.

According to Minister Christina, a team of vets took the elephant to the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary in Kinabatangan where they provided it with a modified diet to help him eat.

And while Toothie was nursed in captivity for three months, his condition did not improve and the fracture developed a malunion of the jaw.

She said that they are still investigating the cause of the fracture, but suspects it was a heavy vehicle that had knocked the elephant, resulting in the injury.

The fracture developed a malunion of the jaw, resulting in a permanent deformity

Image via FMT

The pygmy elephant, an endangered species, is the world’s smallest known sub-species of elephants and Sabah is home to these elephants

It is estimated that there are less than 1,500 of elephants left in Sabah.

According to WWF, the single most important cause of the decline of the Asian elephant has been the loss of its habitat. Human disturbances within forests such as logging and hunting also worsen contact between sub-populations of elephants.

On a slightly happy note, last month, Perhilitan personnel successfully rescued a female elephant stuck in a pool of mud:

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