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Loss of a Neonate Spotted Seal and Harbour Seal “Donut”


Ocean Park is saddened to announce the loss of a neonate spotted seal on 18 February and a young male harbour seal named “Donut” on 22 February 2016.

The spotted seal died during its birthing process shortly after 3am on 18 February when it was accidentally knocked into the water by its mother. Once in the water, the neonate was unable to take its first breath, which led to its death. Necropsy confirmed that its lungs had not inflated, indicating that it did not drown, but failed to breathe.
Ms Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, said, “The event was captured on CCTV and shows that the pup’s mother ‘Qiao Niu’ was asleep when the birthing process began. Qiao Niu appeared startled when she awoke and unknowingly knocked the feotus into the water. Qiao Nui was in the back of house of Polar Adventure in preparation for the birth expected in March. We are saddened by the loss of this feotus and our concern is extended to the mother Qiao Niu, although she has not exhibited any signs of distress or illness.”

On 22 February 2016, the harbour seal “Donut” passed away after a cataract removal surgery, due to anaesthesia complications leading to heart failure. Donut, aged 7, developed cataracts, a condition that would eventually lead to blindness if left untreated.

Ms Suzanne Gendron, Executive Director of Zoological Operations and Education, further explained, “Following the successful cataract removal for another harbour seal in the Park by our veterinary team last year, we scheduled Donut to have the same surgery to improve his quality of life before it was compromised by these cataracts. We recognised that there are inherent risks involved in general anaesthesia for seals and our veterinary team had been meticulous in planning this procedure. Despite all efforts to revive Donut when the complications arose, he did not recover. Since 2006, our veterinary team has performed 49 seal anesthesias and unfortunately this was the first loss.”

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has been notified of the incidents.