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What Happened To WhiteWings
According To Vancouver Aquarium

Below are excerpts from a newspaper article which describe what happened...according to the aquarium.


EXCERPTS FROM "Dolphin dies during removal of stomach debris" by Doug Ward, Jan.26/02 - Vancouver Sun newspaper.

"The dolphin died following a routine medical procedure Thursday night to remove objects such as stones, pine cones and seashells from her stomach.

'There's no cutting edge technology for this kind of thing', said (aquarium vet Dr. David)Huff. 'We had an employee with a long skinny arm reach down her throat into her stomach and remove the stuff.'

The procedure which was conducted without any sedatives went well on Wednesday. Whitewings lay on a foam mat and remained calm during the procedure. About 10 stones were removed and Whitewings was swimming upside down - a favourite maneuver - about 20 minutes after the procedure, once the pool was filled again. But things went awry on Thursday when the procedure was repeated to remove the remaining debris. Whitewings simply stopped breathing and her heart stopped about 2 minutes later. Staff rushed to give her oxygen through a tube into her windpipe, administer drugs and apply external heart massage. But it was too late.

Aquarium staff first noticed in 1997 that Whitewings had debris in her stomach. They removed most of the debris at the time except for the stones.

Then about 9 months ago stones and debris regularly became caught in Whitewings rectum and had to be removed.

'There's no cutting edge technology for this kind of thing', said Huff. 'We had an employee with a long skinny arm reach down her throat into her stomach and remove the stuff.'

Huff said the seashells inside Whitewings probably came from birds, the pinecones and twigs from trees, and the stones were probably thrown into the pool by people."


LETTER TO THE EDITOR

January 27, 2002

Dear Editor,

Vancouver Sun reporter Doug Ward describes what aquarium staff calls "a routine medical procedure" ("Dolphin dies during removal of stomach debris" Jan.26/02). Apparently, a small aquarium staff member (maybe a cashier or an accountant?) had to stick her skinny arm into the mouth of Whitewings to pull stones out of the stomach of the non-sedated dolphin.

How professional and safe is that? And how well do they care for animals at the aquarium when people can throw stones at the dolphins?,br>

Captive animals are routinely subjected to this kind of abuse and cruelty. The aquarium's coffee shop stopped providing straws with your pool-side drinks years ago because people kept throwing the straws at the beluga whales who would suck them and choke. Cigarette butts, coins and other debris continue to be a problem.

Animals in captivity often develop neurotic behaviour such as eating disorders, and that's what might have happened to Whitewings.

The article stated that "Aquarium staff first noticed in 1997 that Whitewings had debris in her stomach". Finna, the male orca kept with Bjossa and Whitewings for 17 years died in 1997 - that's when Whitewings started eating debris.

The article continued, "Then about 9 months ago stones and debris regularly became caught in Whitewings' rectum, and had to be removed." Bjossa was kept for 20 years with Whitewings until she was shipped to SeaWorld in San Diego 9 months ago - and Whitewings again started eating debris.

The aquarium says it is now "high-priority" to replace Whitewings with more dolphins. Only the Vancouver Park Board can stop the aquarium's plans to bring more dolphins. Unfortunately, the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) dominates the park board and they don't seem interested.

Let's remember when we go to the polls in November which park commisioners support continuing this cruelty.

Sincerely,
Annelise Sorg, Director
Coalition For No Whales In Captivity
Box 461-1755 Robson Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6G 3B7
CANADA
TEL: (604) 736-9514
E-mail:

ACTION ALERT: NO NEW DOLPHINS

Please write a letter to the editor:
VanSun Editor:sunletters@pacpress.southam.ca
RE:"DOLPHIN DIES DURING REMOVAL OF STOMACH DEBRIS" Jan.26/02

Don't forget to include your full address and telephone number so they can contact you to confirm authorship.

Thanks.

Annelise