Ocean Park is saddened to announce that a captive bred Chinese sturgeon was euthanized at around 5:30pm today. The euthanized sturgeon was diagnosed with a mycobacterial infection, an often fatal disease for fishes, and had been undergoing medical treatment and supportive care at the back-of-house facility since April 2015.
Dr. Lee Foo Khong, Veterinarian of Ocean Park, said, “In this instance, we attempted to treat and study the mycobacterial infection in an effort to learn more about its presence in this species of sturgeon since presently there are only lethal means of detecting carriers of Mycobacterium.”
“After several months of treatment and care, the sturgeon was not responding and faced a deteriorating quality of life. A decision was made to euthanize the sturgeon after consultation with staff at the Yangtze River Fishery Research Institution (YRFRI)”, Dr. Lee added.
Ms. Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, said, “It is with sorrow that we announce this important education ambassador was unable to recover from its disease. In some species of fishes, mycobacterial infections are often non-responsive to the treatments currently available, and its incubation period can be weeks, months or even years. We had been working very closely with experts from YRFRI to provide the best treatment and care for the sturgeon to keep it comfortable and maintain its quality of life.”
Prof. Wei Qi-wei of Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, said, “Both Ocean Park and our institute have put an immense amount of effort into treating the sturgeon and we are sorry that it failed to respond and thrive. We will continue to study this species through our close partnership with Ocean Park’s dedicated team of aquarists and veterinarians. Chinese sturgeons have not been observed breeding in the Yangtze River for the past two years and our captive breeding programme may be the last hope for this endangered species. We are gaining knowledge about mycobacterial infections in this species and Ocean Park’s experience is greatly contributing to this knowledge.”
Currently, there are 13 captive bred Chinese sturgeons at the Park, all donated by the YRFRI, residing at the Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium. Three of them arrived at the Park in April 2010, while the remaining ten arrived in February 2014. All of the remaining sturgeons are in apparent fine health.
The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing Aquarium and YRFRI were notified of the decision.