Mac, The Houston Zoo's Most Famous Elephant Dies

Mac, the Houston Zoo’s 2 year old Asian elephant whose mischievous nature endeared him to thousands of Zoo guests died the night of November 9th following a brief but valiant struggle with the elephant herpesvirus. “The entire Zoo staff is absolutely devastated. It’s difficult to put into words and describe the attachment that has developed over the past two years. This is a terrible loss especially for the elephant keepers and veterinary medical staff who cared for Mac during his time with us,” said Houston Zoo spokesman Brian Hill .

Houston Zoo elephant keepers alerted the Zoo’s veterinarians Sunday morning when they saw indications that Mac was exhibiting initial symptoms of elephant herpesvirus. “Our keepers perform regular inspections of all our elephants and are trained to look for indications such as loss of appetite, lethargy, and swelling in certain areas of the head,” said Hill.

The Zoo’s veterinary medical team immediately began administering Famciclovir, an antiviral medication that has shown some limited success in past elephant herpes cases.

“Veterinarians administered two doses of Famciclovir over a period of about 7 hours. The early indications were encouraging. Mac’s appetite rallied and he took some water,” said Hill.

Mac's mother Shanti and his Aunt Methai were at his side. “The keepers and vet staff gave Shanti and Methai time alone to mourn Mac’s death,” said Hill. A necropsy, an animal autopsy will be conducted at the state veterinary diagnostic lab at Texas A and M University. The results will not be known for several weeks.

Lori Freese