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