ATLANTA - The Georgia Aquarium announced a new beluga whale calf born in May has died.
The whale was a female born to 20-year-old Maris on May 10.
“Over the past several weeks, our veterinary and animal care team, have provided around-the-clock care to Maris and her calf,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart V.M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and chief veterinary officer. “Because of the statistical probability of survival of beluga whale calves, we’ve always been guardedly optimistic. Early on, we were pleased to see the calf complete several key milestones, including a successful birth and bonding with her mother. There were still some critical milestones to overcome, however, and we became concerned when we were not seeing the desired weight gain in the calf. Preliminary diagnostics, including consultation from veterinary specialists, indicated that the calf had gastrointestinal issues that were preventing her from properly absorbing and assimilating nutrients that she needed to grow and thrive.”
Georgia Aquarium's animal care experts attempted to help the calf gain weight by supplementing her caloric needs with formula.
The aquarium says the calf began showing signs of lethargy, and needed assistance to swim the morning of Friday.
The calf took her last breath in the arms of her caregivers next to her mother just after 7 a.m.
“While we recognize death is part of the natural cycle of life, this remains a difficult loss for the entire Aquarium team," said Mike Leven, CEO and chairman, Georgia Aquarium. "Our devoted team of staff and trained volunteers brought an extraordinary level of work and dedication to ensure a smooth pregnancy, labor, delivery and ongoing care for Maris and her calf through thousands of hours of service over 16 months. I’m extremely proud of the passionate, dedicated and loving care our experts gave this calf.”