You gotta hand it to the El Paso Zoo veterinary staff and keepers. They are doing a great job of treating 52-year-old zoo favorite, Juno the elephant, for cancer. Juno has just successfully completed a fourth cancer treatment procedure and is being closely monitored by zookeepers.

Back in October of 2016, Juno was diagnosed with a malignant mass in her right mammary gland. At the time, there was no record of a malignant mammary gland tumor ever reported in all of veterinary literature. That made treating Juno difficult because they didn't know how to do it.

Since then, the zoo has been working with a variety of veterinarians to treat Juno, and last Wednesday, October 16, veterinarians performed electrochemotherapy treatment, along with a new localized IL-12 gene therapy to enhance Juno's immune system’s ability to recognize and fight the tumor. The tumor was infused with a chemotherapy drug and the IL-12 gene, then treated with a small electric pulse that drives the agents into the cancer cells. That treatment allows a targeted treatment of the mass that will put Juno through fewer side effects.

Juno had treatments in March of 2017, September of 2017, and in January of 2018. Thankfully, the mass has responded to the previous treatments, and the overall mass size decreased, but over time, it has grown again.

El Paso Zoo officials say they hope the electrochemotherapy and electrogene therapy decreases the size of the mass, makes the disease static, and keeps Juno comfortable.

The mass will probably not go away without surgery, but Juno is old and zoo officials say this is the better treatment method because the tumor is not aggressive and they don't want to overstress Juno's system with surgery.

Juno, you have all our best wishes for continued success with your treatments!

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