San Diego, Calif. (January 13, 1997) - An examination today on the infant gray whale brought to Sea World of California Saturday revealed the calf has gained about 30 pounds and apparently did consume the all-important colustrum (first milk) from its mother before being separated from her.
"We detected gamma globulin, which is the body's first line of defense against infection," said Sea World Veterinarian Dr. Jim McBain. "Also, its kidneys and all other internal organs appear to be functioning reasonably well."
The calf is now consuming two gallons of a milk-based formula every three to four hours, and continues to initiate contact with the animal care workers who enter the pool. The staff is working with the animal around the clock.
"Due to the initial poor condition of the animal, it's still too early to know if her condition has stabilzed," said McBain. "I can say that we are very encouraged, and that she seems to be a fighter. We think she has a strong will to survive."
"The next few months will be critical for the calf. We will continue to use all our resources to work toward our goal of rehabilitating and reintroducing the animal back into the wild."
The calf beached at Marina Del Rey Saturday afternoon, and was transported to the park in a truck by National Marine Fisheries Service workers. Initially severely dehydrated and hypoglycemic, the whale quickly began to respond to fluids and medication she received from Sea World animal care and veterinary staff. The calf has been gaining strength and navigating the 40-foot by 40-foot holding pool located in Sea World's behind-the-scenes animal care complex.
Sea World is the only institution on the west coast of North America with the facilities to provide such specialized care for a beached whale.
An adult California gray whale can be as long as 55 feet and weigh as much as 37 tons, the equivalent of five African elephants. It will eat 2,400 pounds of food daily, and needs a 660-pound meal to fill its stomach.
Infant Gray Whale Survives First Night at Sea World
More information about gray whales
More information about the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program
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