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National Aquarium Mourns the Loss of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin Maya


The National Aquarium is saddened to report the passing of Maya, born at the Aquarium on May 13, 2001.

Our Animal Health team had been carefully monitoring Maya's health since March when she began to exhibit signs of illness, including loss of appetite. She received round-the-clock care, and at first benefitted from a combination of fluids supplemented with vitamins, electrolytes and medications, including antibiotics.

Maya began to display signs of new health concerns in mid-April. Veterinary staff was able to ascertain that there was inflammation throughout her body and her liver was not functioning appropriately, causing issues within her digestive system. Our Animal Health team responded immediately, running further tests including a liver biopsy and consulting with marine mammal experts from all over the country to help diagnose and treat her.

Over the past few days, Maya's health significantly declined and on Saturday morning she was unable to keep food down and her breathing was elevated. Despite their best efforts, Maya was unable to recover and in the interest of the highest level of animal welfare, the difficult decision was made to euthanize Maya yesterday so that she did not endure additional pain or suffering.

Maya was the third eldest of the Aquarium's colony of dolphins. Throughout her life, she inspired the Aquarium's dedicated staff and volunteers who provided her with optimal care and loved her dearly. She not only enriched the lives of her Aquarium family, but educated and inspired millions of Aquarium members, guests and school groups.

"Maya was a cherished member of our National Aquarium family, and we are heartbroken to lose her," said National Aquarium Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli. "We have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support from the community and appreciate everyone's compassion during this difficult time for our staff, our dolphins and our guests." A full necropsy (animal autopsy) will be completed by Johns Hopkins to better understand the underlying causes of Maya's illness.

The National Aquarium is home to six other Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Jade, Spirit, Chesapeake, Bayley, Beau and Foster. As previously shared, the Aquarium plans to create North America's first ocean water dolphin sanctuary and preparations are currently underway to transition the Aquarium's pod of dolphins to a more naturalistic setting in the coming years.