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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

We'll never forget you: Elephants say a sad farewell to baby who died of a heart defect

By Daily Mail Reporter

A herd of grieving elephants gathers round the lifeless body of a little calf after she died of a heart defect.

Three-month-old Lola was due to receive groundbreaking surgery for her condition but passed away during a preliminary scan.

Keepers at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo decided to return her body to the enclosure so mother Panang, 22, could say her goodbyes in peace.

Scroll down to see a video of Lola playing in the zoo...

Goodbye little one: An adult elephant tenderly nuzzles the lifeless body of baby Lola at Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, Germany. The three-months-old calf was due for an operation on her defective heart but sadly died during a preliminary scan

Afterwards the rest of the herd gently nuzzled Lola's body with their trunks before taking their leave of her.

Zoo director and veterinarian Dr Andreas Knieriem explained how baby Lola died after three days of treatment by experts.

'Considering the pathology, it has to be said it's a miracle that she lived as long as she did," said Dr. Knieriem.

'Her arteries were so blocked that blood couldn't flow through her lungs anymore.'

Condition: Lola was due to undergo surgery at the Grosshadern Clinic, but died during a preliminary scan

Heartbreaking: Lola's arteries were so blocked that blood couldn't flow through her lungs

Elephants are widely believed to mourn the deaths of members of their herd, and even pay homage to long-dead elephants.

A 2005 study in the UK found the creatures displayed traits similar to humans and, coming across the remains of an elephant, would gently touch the skull and tusks with their trunks and feet.

They are also believed to display a ritual around death, with several elephants travelling to visit a dead body and touching the corpse with their trunks.

Some elephants have been seen to weep and others make sounds associated with grief as they cover the body with leaves and branches before keeping a silent vigil.

Loss: Lola, pictured enjoying some carrots in her enclosure at the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich, was three months old when she died



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