El Paso Zoo veterinary staff and keepers, alongside Dr. Joseph Impellizeri of Veterinary Oncology Services in New York, have successfully completed a third and final cancer treatment procedure on 50-year-old Asian elephant Juno.
“Our goal with electrochemotherapy is to decrease the size of the mass, make the disease static, and keep Juno comfortable,” said Dr. Victoria Milne. “Without surgery, it is unlikely the mass will completely disappear; however, due to the non-aggressive nature of the mass and the high risk of surgery in a geriatric elephant such as Juno, this treatment modality was chosen rather than surgery.”
Juno was diagnosed with a malignant mass in her right mammary gland in October 2016. Last Thursday, Juno was placed under general anesthesia to perform a third electrochemotherapy treatment. The tumor was infused with a chemotherapy drug and then treated with a small electric pulse that drives the chemotherapy agent into the cancer cells. This allows localized treatment of the mass.
Juno is recovering well from her procedure and is being closely monitored by her keepers.
The first treatment was performed in March, followed by a second procedure in September. The mass has responded to the previous treatments, and the overall mass size has decreased.
Juno is one of two Asian elephant at the El Paso Zoo. Asian elephants are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s collaborative conservation programming. They are also an AZA SAFE species; SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) focuses the collective expertise within AZA accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species.