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A discouraging loss

Published July 24, 2008

From Sue Hunter, Director of Animal Programs at the National Aquarium:

I am deeply saddened to report that on July 14 at approximately 3:00 a.m., one of our pregnant dolphins, Shiloh, gave birth to a stillborn calf. While not entirely unexpected as 33% of calves are born stillborn or die during the first year of life in the wild and in aquariums, it is heartbreaking for those that work closely with these animals. 

Our trainers, veterinarians, and volunteers have done all they can to provide the best environment and care for Shiloh, and it is disheartening for all involved to have a pregnancy end in this way.  Our thoughts now turn towards Shiloh, in finding out the possible cause for the stillbirth and in helping her to overcome her loss. 

In the days following we have been focused on Shiloh’s health and on managing the rest of the dolphin population. We have continued 24-hour observations of Shiloh. The veterinary staff has conducted tests on the dolphin’s placenta and on the calf for insight into possible causes for the stillbirth and to rule out any health concerns. Examinations to date have not yielded obvious cause for the calf to be stillborn.

Shiloh is in good spirits, eating on a normal schedule, and has not shown any signs of discomfort or distress. We are still awaiting the arrival of Chesapeake’s calf. All recent prenatal tests conducted on the mother and calf have shown positive results. As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the outcome.

Condolences can be sent to dolphins@aqua.org or posted directly on Waterlog.

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