We are deeply saddened to announce that our Pacific white-sided dolphin calf died late yesterday afternoon. Our marine mammals and veterinary teams did everything humanly possible to help the calf thrive. But nature took a different course.
Now we are focusing on the health and care of Tique, who put a lot of energy into mothering her calf.
From the moment the female calf was born on June 3, our trainers and vets worked tirelessly around the clock to give her and mom the best care. When the calf didn’t start nursing her first day, we made the decision to step in and begin regular feedings with Tique’s milk. We hoped that precautionary measure would keep her going strong until she got the hang of nursing. But this essential milestone in her life took longer than expected to achieve.
Our veterinarians and pathologists conducted a full necropsy last night but found nothing conclusive. They will do additional work, but, as is often the case, we may never really know the cause of death.
Still, through this short life we’ve added to what we know about Pacific white-sided dolphins. With only 20 of these dolphins in North American aquariums, this birth was a rare opportunity to advance our knowledge of the species’ husbandry, using ultrasound images to track fetal development, 24-hour observations to study the interactions between mom and calf, and new methods in dolphin neonatal care to lend help when it’s needed. With this experience over the last week, we are better prepared for success in the future. We will also share this important information with our marine mammals colleagues and with the international scientific community.
This is a difficult loss for the Shedd family. But in joy or in grief, we remain proud of our animals, our people and our husbandry program.
Posted by Karen Furnweger, web editor