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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

Elephant on mend after oil injection

A day after being mistakenly injected with mineral oil at the Toledo Zoo, Renee the African elephant is nearing the end of her recovery, zoo officials said.

Interim head zoo veterinarian Wynona Shellebarger said yesterday that Renee, mother of baby Louie, is "close to being back to normal behavior. We're seeing no residual effects from the incident."

The accident occurred Monday when a zookeeper thought he was injecting Renee with a painkiller, prescribed after she showed signs of an upset stomach for several days. Instead, the zookeeper had filled the syringe with mineral oil and injected it into the elephant's front left leg.

As of yesterday, the animal was on no additional medications, walked without a limp, and was "getting back to her regular eating habits," Dr. Shellebarger added.

The vet had to make a cut several inches long at the site of the injection to try to get as much of the oil out of the wound as possible. The wound itself showed no signs of infection yesterday and is being cleaned with warm wash baths, officials said.

As far as this type of accident occurring in the past, "I can't recall the last time something like this happened," said Dr. Shellebarger, who has worked at the zoo as a veterinarian since 1989.

Zoo officials said they were not sure when Renee would be back on exhibit, and currently await the results of recent blood tests before making the decision.

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