A four-day-old dolphin at an ocean park on the east coast died on Monday after failing to feed from its mother, management staff said.
The bottlenose dolphin was born on Thursday at the Hualien Farglory Ocean Park, but did not learn how to feed, which normally takes eight to 12 hours for a newborn dolphin to learn, the staff said.
“We originally planned to collect milk from the mother dolphin to feed the newborn, but the animal’s protective instincts prevented us from approaching the two,” a park official said.
The staff began feeding the calf milk formula to provide basic nutrition after 36 hours, but it remained weak because it was consuming so much of its energy just to get to the surface to breathe, the official said.
“The newborn was found to be in a coma this [Monday] morning and was pronounced dead after an hour of efforts to save it failed,” the official added.
Dolphin mothers squirt milk from their mammary glands and the calf must learn to catch the milk while both of them continue to swim. Normally, a calf suckles for about 18 months before starting to feed on fish.
Ken Ramirez, vice chairman of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, who traveled to Hualien to help with the delivery of the baby dolphin, said the death rate for baby dolphins in captivity is about 90 percent and most can barely survive more than 24 hours.
“We have done our best,” he said, adding that the Chicago aquarium would offer more technical exchanges with the Hualien park.