NECROPSY ON LOS ANGELES ZOO ELEPHANT GITA IS INCONCLUSIVE.
A much-anticipated necropsy report for Gita the elephant, the 48-year-old Asian pachyderm that died at the Los Angeles Zoo in June, failed to determine whether a delay in reporting her worsening condition contributed to her death.
Results from the necropsy, completed Tuesday but released Wednesday, indicated Gita died of cardiac failure associated with blood clots. The right chamber and major vessels of her heart were blocked, zoo officials said.
``Clotting began between three to five days before her death and was caused by a coagulation disorder,'' according to a statement released by the zoo. ``The cause of this disorder could not be discerned.''
Zoo officials first reported Gita had been found by zookeepers at 5 a.m. June 10 sitting on her haunches. She died at 9:40 a.m. after toxins from her muscles led to vascular distress.
But they acknowledged an employee failed to follow procedures in reporting its condition at 8:45 p.m. June 9. A city official said the woman was a night watch zookeeper who has since resigned.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had called for a full investigation, labeling the gap in reporting time ``unacceptable.''
In a statement Wednesday, Villaraigosa said the results of the necropsy will be made public.
``It is important the zoo share this comprehensive information with its colleagues to benefit the health and well-being of elephants and other animals everywhere,'' he said.
But animal-welfare activists continued to blast zoo officials for the lag, saying it was one more reason to close the elephant exhibit for its poor aesthetics and inadequate space.
``We are going to stay on this, and stay on this, until the elephant exhibit is closed,'' said Chris DeRose, the founder of the national organization Last Chance for Animals.
``Just because they are coming up with reasons why Gita died doesn't mean that it's right it died,'' he said. ``Animals in the wild do not get clotting. They are strict vegetarians and walk 40 miles a day. The only reason you get clotting in the leg is because they are not getting enough circulation.''
Results from the necropsy did not determine whether the lag time contributed to her death, zoo officials said.
``It would have been nice to have gotten more direct information of why she collapsed and why she had the blood clots,'' Zoo General Manager John Lewis said. ``I think all in all, we're still sad that Gita passed away.''
Lewis said he told of the gap in reporting the elephant's condition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Investigators came to the zoo twice since then, he said. A report on the department's findings is still pending.
But protocol for reporting a sick animal has been reinforced, Lewis said.
``We changed our communication procedures,'' he said, ``emphasizing there has to be an active closure on a report.''