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NC Zoo's elephant C'sar gets helping hand

Posted on 05/19/11

ASHEBORO, NC - C'sar, the oldest elephant at the North Carolina Zoo and one of the park's most popular animals, needed the assistance of keepers and a 70-ton crane from a local Asheboro contractor to get back on his feet after keepers found him this morning on his side, unable to get up.

It was the second time this week that the 37-year-old C'sar needed assistance to stand. Sunday, the Ash-Rand Rescue Squad was called to the zoo to assist elephant keepers in lifting the 13,000-pound pachyderm following a training exercise that morning.

The zoo's electronic hoist system, inside the elephant barn on an I beam that can support the weight of an elephant, was used Sunday. But C'sar was in an outside paddock today, so zoo keepers were unable to use their hoist system and needed the crane to reach and move him.
After C'sar was hoisted to his feet by the crane, he shook off the lifting harness, walked around his enclosure and appeared to be in stable condition.

On Sunday, C'sar was being trained to lie on his side so that zoo veterinarians could perform eye cataract surgery later in the summer. Elephant keepers had been working with C'sar for weeks on the training with no problems. The eye surgery has been delayed indefinitely.

According to the zoo's Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ryan DeVoe, C'sar had shown no signs previously of any problems but that it was likely muscular-skeletal related; however, DeVoe emphasized the limits on any diagnosis.

"Because of his size, we can't do X-rays with any degree of competence." DeVoe said. "We've done blood testing, and all appears normal."

According to Curator of Mammals Guy Lichty, C'sar will be kept off exhibit while the veterinary staff observes C'sar in an effort to better determines the cause of the incidents.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.

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