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Europe's First Captive-born Beluga Dead at 25 Days; Rejected Whale 'Never Adapted to Artificial Milk'

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VALENCIA, Spain -- A baby beluga whale born in a Spanish marine park--the first beluga whale born in captivity in Europe--has died at the age of 25 days.

Officials at the Oceanographic park in Valencia said Tuesday that the whale had died the previous day. They said

While the exact cause of the young mammal's death remained uncertain, "the incident probably occurred because the young whale never adapted to artificial milk," a park statement said.

The beluga's 8-year-old mother, Yulka, is the youngest whale to give birth in captivity.

Because of her inexperience, Yulka was unable to nurse her infant and stopped producing milk _ despite efforts by aquarium staff to pump milk from her mammary glands, said Pablo Areitio, director of biology, and Daniel Garcia, chief veterinarian at the marine park.

The baby beluga had suffered from an irregular swimming style and excessive buoyancy since his Nov. 2 birth.

While marine park staff were dismayed at the infant's death, it was not entirely unexpected, the statement said. During the first few months of life, offspring of first-time mothers have only a 42 percent chance of survival in a natural environment, park officials said.

The experience Yulka gained over the last several weeks may increase the survival chances of future offspring, officials said.

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Reader Comments

5 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I have a question. Because Yulk was inexperienced, which is a theroy for the possible death of her first infant. When she mates and has another offspring, will she be more experienced as a mother. Giving the calf a better chance at survival??
   comment# 1   - Camera · Tacoma, United states · Nov 29, 2006 @ 11:11am

'The experience Yulka gained over the last several weeks may increase the survival chances of future offspring, officials said.'
   comment# 2   - Sarah · UK · Nov 29, 2006 @ 1:04pm

Whales and dolphins learn from their mothers and family members how to care for their offspring-just like learning their dialect or how to hunt for themselves. Take an animal out of the wild and these "learned" behaviors can't be replaced by human "technology." I doubt if the mother will ever have a viable calf.
   comment# 3   - Jodi Smith · Friday Harbor, USA · Dec 2, 2006 @ 10:25am

why did you kept a whale? if i will keep you on cage would you like it?????
   comment# 4   - shane · angeles city, philipines · Sep 2, 2007 @ 1:53am

stop taking whales and other mammals from their homes. if only people could learn from Keiko the killer whale. Even then the idiot who took him away from his family and home should have known that what he is doing is wrong and that the death of Keiko and other orcas will haunt him forever. those animals don't deserve this kind of life. They get sick,loose a family member or they die. they were put on the earth to make it more adventures not to make money of them. they are live creatures just like us humans they are apart of us so don't kill us.
   comment# 5   - monica · south africa johannesburg · Sep 25, 2007 @ 2:47am
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