Shedd Aquarium Reports the Death of a Male Beluga Calf

Aug 25, 1999, 01:00 ET from Shedd Aquarium

    CHICAGO, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Shedd Aquarium is deeply saddened to
 announce the loss of its male beluga whale calf born on July 23 to Puiji
 (Poo-EE-jee).  The calf died Tuesday night after several weeks of intensive
 24-hour-a-day monitoring by animal care staff.
     The calf has been in critical condition since its birth.  Formula
 simulating whale's milk and medication were given to the calf after it failed
 to nurse in the first 36 hours.  The calf began to nurse five days after its
 birth but remained weak.  Over the ensuing weeks, the calf's condition
 fluctuated.  The calf's condition began to decline again on Sunday, and it
 died at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
     Preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) results show the calf was suffering
 from respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
     The mother, Puiji, a 13-year-old beluga whale, is eating and appears to be
 doing fine.  Immiayuk (Im-ee-A-yook) and her female calf, born on August 3,
 are well and continue to be monitored 24 hours a day.  The female calf has
 gained 14 lbs. over the last week, and animal care staff are encouraged by
 her progress, although the calf remains in the first critical stage.
     Puiji and Immiayuk are both first-time mothers.  Beluga whales in both
 wild and zoological populations commonly lose their first calf during
 pregnancy or during the first year after birth.
     "We are saddened by the loss of our male beluga calf, but we are proud of
 the exemplary care that our animal and veterinary staff provided," said
 Ted Beattie, President/CEO of Shedd Aquarium.  "We also appreciate the
 outpouring of support we've received from the people of Chicago."
     Shedd Aquarium is an active participant in a cooperative breeding program
 for beluga whales with eight North American zoos and aquariums.  Knowledge
 gained from beluga whales at Shedd has provided a greater understanding of
 beluga whales in zoos and aquarium and in the wild.

SOURCE Shedd Aquarium