MIAMI: Ringling Brothers, America’s best-known circus, announced Thursday the death of its youngest elephant at a conservation center where it is retiring the animals after criticism from rights groups.
Mike, a two-year-old, died of a virus “despite the heroic efforts of our veterinary and animal care staff,” Ringling Brothers said in a statement. Animal rights group Peta said that the elephant’s death was “no surprise.”
Ashley Settles, Ringling’s director of veterinary care, said the illness progressed aggressively with Mike beginning to show symptoms on Saturday and dying by Monday.
“No one knows why the virus manifests this way in some elephants, since most elephants harbor the virus and never become ill,” she said.
Mike was born in June 2013 at the Ringling conservation center in Florida and was the youngest elephant there.