POLK CITY, FL -- A rare baby elephant is being treated in Polk City after being pulled off the Ringling Bros. circus lineup for a potentially fatal disease.
His name is Barack. Yes, after the President. He was born January 19, 2009, on the inauguration's eve.
At one-year-old and nearly 1,000 pounds, Barack was introduced 2 weeks ago to audiences in Central Florida through Ringling Bros.
His job was to throw his trunk up in the air and wave at audiences. The company was so proud announcing Barack as its first Ringling Bros elephant born through artificial insemination.
But shortly after the shows, trainers noticed something was wrong. He was tired.
"He was off," said Veterinarian Danielle Graham.
Blood tests showed Barack contracted a very rare disease for Asian elephants. Herpes. Graham says researchers do not know how elephants get it. Most die with a mortality rate of 85%.
"It is just wow. It's just shocking...the only thing you can think of is what can we do for him," said animal handler Trudy Williams.
Graham treated Barack with an antivirus typically used to try and combat the disease. Ringling Bros. pulled him from the lineup and brought Barack's mother back to a facility in Polk City to be with him while he healed.
In the meantime, everyone crossed their fingers.
"Its a virus like the flu kind of in that sense where there is not something that cures it, just a lot of supportive care that goes into it," said Graham.
Within a short period of time, Barack began galloping in the fields. He is now recovering off a rural in Polk City, a private facility owned by Ringling Bros. And his energy is picking up.
In one sitting, he swallows apples by the dozen.
"There is nothing better. It's wonderful," said Williams.
Graham says she will wait until he fully heals before even entertaining the thought of putting him back in the lineup, but she is hopeful.
Reported by: Reported by: Karen Castillo/abcactionnews.com
Copyright 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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