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CMZ elephant Malaika recovering after rescue

Posted at 3:43 PM, Apr 03, 2019

COLORADO SPRINGS – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s 33 year old African elephant Malaika is recovering after a potentially serious health scare.

She needed emergency assistance Monday from firefighter heavy rescue teams. They used a crane to lift her back on her feet after she was found lying on her side during an overnight check. In a Facebook post, the zoo says if an elephant can’t get up on its own and is down for too long, it can cause stress to its internal organs and can be fatal.

“Malaika has a history of not being able to get back up from laying down, and had to be rescued once before, on Jan. 1, 2018. Some elephants are able to lie down and get back up with no problem, but some, like Malaika, don’t ever lie down and instead just lean on objects for rest. This is partially due to a life-long issue with bowing and lack of strength in her back right leg, which is worsening as she ages,” according to the post.

“She’s doing very well actually,” Elephant Care Manager Jason Bredahl tells News 5. “You can imagine, if you or I fell down, we’d feel a little bit sore potentially from that trauma to our joints and our muscles, so she is a little bit stiff but she’s definitely better than yesterday.” Keepers moved her to a stand stall for her safety. For now she’ll receive therapy and some much needed TLC.

The elephant rescue team consisted of more than 20 cross-discipline Zoo staff members, including Malaika’s animal keepers, veterinary staff, maintenance and grounds personnel, the Colorado Springs Fire Department Heavy Rescue team, Broadmoor Fire Department, and more.