With the help of a heavy-duty crane, Banna the elephant gets to her feet on Tuesday at the Shanghai Zoo. Keepers found her lying on her side and said she had suffered heatstroke. Keepers worried that the prone position could damage her internal organs. (ZHOU XIN / FOR CHINA DAILY)
Banna the elephant, a star attraction at the Shanghai Zoo, suffered from heatstroke on Monday following a month of 35 C days in the city. However, the animal has been receiving medication and is improving, the zoo said on Thursday.
The 53-year-old Asian elephant, which has been at the zoo longer than any of the other 7,000 animals there, was found on Monday afternoon lying on one side on the ground.
"The elephant had been standing since she gave birth to her first calf in 1978," said He Weiguang, a spokesman for the Shanghai Zoo.
"A calf usually sleeps under the mother's stomach, and the elephant has an extraordinarily strong mothering instinct and doesn't want to hurt the calf, so since then she has maintained the habit of standing all the time," he said.
She is eating more these days and can stand by herself, according to the zoo.
Initial tests found that Banna had a temperature of 38 C, up from the normal 36 C. All other indicators were normal.
The elephant was immediately given medical treatment, including intramuscular and intravenous injections. Its body temperature dropped to 37.1 C the next morning.
A doctor from the infectious disease department of Fudan University's Zhongshan Hospital and animal experts from Shanghai Wild Animal Park and Beijing Zoo were convened for a consultation on Tuesday morning and agreed that it was important for the elephant to stand as soon as possible.
"We feared that its colossal body would put huge pressure on its heart, lungs and gastrointestinal tract if it kept lying there," said Gui Jianfeng, director of the Shanghai Zoo's animal hospital.
At noon on Tuesday, Banna finally stood up with the help of a heavy-duty crane. She still has a bit of a fever but her appetite has almost recovered, He said.
Xu Jianhua, a feeder at the zoo, said the elephants stay indoors on summer days and are taken outdoors for a walk after sunset.
"They are also given spray showers from time to time to cool off on scorching days," he said.
Spray showers are also available to monkeys, tigers and chimpanzees, He said, adding that tigers and bears spend a lot of time in the water cooling off.
Pandas are the only animals at the zoo that get air-conditioned rooms.
Most animals are also provided with watermelons, cucumbers and tomatoes on a daily basis.