MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) – The second of five whales brought from Canada to Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium last year for research purposes has died.
The aquarium announced on its website that the female had been receiving intensive care for several months for multiple health issues, but died early Friday morning. A necropsy was to be performed to determine the cause of death.
“Mystic Aquarium’s veterinarians and animal care experts, with the support of veterinarians and breeding staff from other aquariums around the world, have devoted all of their expertise to the whale, providing medical treatment around the clock. 24 hour testing and support, monitoring,” the aquarium said in a statement.
A male beluga named Havok, who had a pre-existing gastrointestinal problem, died in August. The two whales were among five brought to Mystic last spring from Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont., after a long battle for permits from the United States and Canada.
Animal rights activists had unsuccessfully sued to block the transport, alleging that a permit granted by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service did not adequately address potential harm to beluga whales from moving them to Mystic .
The whales, which were between 7 and 12 years old at the time of transport, were born in captivity, and officials say they cannot be safely released into the ocean. Mystic officials said at the time that the five whales left a crowded habitat with about 50 other belugas in Canada.
The Animal Welfare Institute, an animal rights organization based in Washington, DC, called for an investigation into the deaths in a statement posted on its website.
In the aquarium’s statement, Dr. Stephen Coan, the aquarium’s president and CEO, said Mystic addressed issues raised during a visit last fall by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. after the death of the first whale. These included handling animals with vision problems, some fluctuations in water quality and shade for the animals.
“Inspections, investigations when an animal dies, and accreditation processes are essential learning tools for advancing animal care and welfare,” Coan said. “We are constantly looking to evolve and learn in our mission to provide the best animal care possible.”