KOTA KINABALU: An eight-year-old Borneo pygmy was euthanised yesterday after having suffered from severe dental condition as a result of a complete fracture of its lower jaw.
The sub-adult bull elephant, nicknamed Toothie, was put out of misery by Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) veterinary team at 12pm.
The process was carried out at the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) in the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary where Toothie was being kept in captivity for three months.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew in a statement today said the decision to put the elephant to death humanely was based on ethical and animal welfare factors.
“Toothie was nursed in captivity for three months, in hope for an improvement in his condition. Unfortunately, it did not improve and the fracture developed a malunion of the jaw, thus causing a permanent deformity that he could only cope with assisted feeding.
“Releasing Toothie back to the wild was a rejected option as he would not be able to feed and sustain himself. Instead, it would contribute to a slow and painful death,” she said.
Liew, who is also Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said nursing Toothie in captivity for the past three months had cost the SWD RM30,000 for medical care and special diet formulation.
She added that corrective surgery was not done due to cost factor and the procedure also could not guarantee success.
The wildlife department is still investigating the cause of fracture, which is highly suspected to have been caused by a massive blunt force trauma probably by a heavy vehicle.
Toothie was rescued from Sabah Softwood Plantation on March 21. Initially, he was found with an abscess at the lower jaw and unable to close his mouth.
A veterinary team from WRU and SWD examined and concluded that the elephant was suffering from a severe dental condition, which was getting worse with his feeding habit.
Toothie was further hospitalised in BES for treatment and provided with a modified diet.
On April 10, a team of veterinarians and a human dental specialist, Dr Johnathan Lin Chee Hang carried out thorough dental examination and took X-rays.
The outcome of that procedure revealed that the animal was suffering from a serious complete fracture of the lower jaw which had subsequently caused the dental condition.