EL PASO, Texas – The El Paso Zoo’s beloved 54-year-old Asian elephant, Juno, is recovering after the removal of a malignant mass in her right mammary gland, zoo officials said Saturday afternoon.
Veterinarians performed the successful breast cancer surgery earlier in the day at the zoo.
“Juno is a fighter and for the last five years she has been fighting this awful cancer,” said El Paso Zoo Director Joe Montisano. “Today was no exception - she was under anesthesia for 2.5 hours, we reversed her and she stood up like a champ. Juno still has a long road to recovery in front of her, but she is strong and will continue to get better every day.”
Zoologists said they would continue to monitor her throughout the next few weeks to make sure she is healing properly.
Juno has undergone a variety of cancer treatments in recent years. Zoo staff decided to attempt a surgical removal of the tumor in a final effort to treat the cancer and prolong Juno’s life.
The zoo's lead veterinarian believes her prognosis is now good.
"Juno’s surgery went better than we expected,” said Dr. Vikki Milne. “She is awake walking around on her own and hungry, which are all good signs!”
Experts say cancer is a rarity for elephants, and Juno is the only known case of an elephant having breast cancer.