Apparently, the moles who put up a page on Facebook (anonymously, of course) about Metro Oregon Zoo's bull Asian elephant, "Packy" can't handle the truth. The "anonymous" staff who put up the page claimed that Packy was "active, playful, and engaged with keeper staff every day." So they shouldn't have euthanized the animal. In truth, it should have been done sooner, and the entire herd should have been euthanized. Why?
The truth is rather darker: managers insisted upon walking animals through public areas which accommodate approximately 1.6 million visitors a year, despite being informed of the fact that it presents a serious health risk for elephants. All it takes is for one person with TB to spit on the ground and for an elephant to contact it, and bingo! You've infected the entire herd, and you won't even know it because TB is one of several diseases that are latent for a number of years.
They ignored the facts, and did it anyway. The result:
PORTLAND, Oregon––Oregon Zoo veterinary staff on February 9, 2017 euthanized Packy, 54, the oldest male elephant in the U.S., after a multi-year losing battle against an antibiotic-resistant strain of the lung disease tuberculosis which had already killed two other Oregon Zoo elephants and infected seven zoo staff plus a volunteer.
Euthanizing Packy was furiously denounced by some animal advocates, incited by social media postings from “Team Packy,” apparently representing one or more Oregon Zoo elephant keepers, and by ill-informed commentary from In Defense of Animals and The Dodo web site.
But the well-documented case history suggests that if the Oregon Zoo can be faulted at all for the euthanasia decision, zoo personnel could be faulted for waiting too long.
That's an accurate assessment; as the entire herd and all of the new facilities recently constructed for elephants are now contaminated, to say nothing of infected staff and the volunteer.
Bob Lee, the Oregon Zoo elephant curator since 2000, told Williams that “Packy’s keepers are doing everything they can to keep the pachyderm comfortable.”
Added Team Packy on January 22, 2017, “We have been told that they [zoo veterinarians] ‘have to make the decision soon’ about Packy. Why the rush? His health is good, great even, he’s active and engaged, he’s in a safe place, they have assured us the herd and the staff are safe. We all accept that Packy will eventually need to be euthanized because of this disease or other health issues, but the decision boils down to whether he is euthanized now because of the fear of transmission or whether he is euthanized later because we have determined a decline in quality of life and don’t want him to suffer. Why is the decision urgent?”
Any epidemiologist could have answered that question, but apparently Team Packy didn’t ask.
About 90% of TB victims host the disease in asymptomatic form, often for years, before another health condition causes it to become apparent. If promptly detected after symptoms appear, TB in humans is usually treatable, with difficulty, but more than 10% of human cases are fatal: more than 2.5 times as many as were fatal before antibiotic-resistant TB was medically identified in 2006.
According to Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants, published on October 29, 2008 by the U.S. Animal Health Association, euthanasia “may be considered for those animals that are showing clinical signs, considered to be poor candidates for treatment, or for other factors based on the clinician’s discretion,” including risk of transmission to staff, public, and other animals.