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Ocean Park Announces Latest Outcomes of Marine Mammal Breeding Efforts

2015-04-20

Ocean Park today announces the recent birth of a spotted seal pup and a harbour seal. The Park also saw the stillbirth of a dolphin calf early this morning.

Building on the consistent successful births of two Northern sea lions in 2012 and six Artic fox pups, and three spotted seals in 2014 at Polar Adventure, a spotted seal pup was born yesterday. The new pup is being nursed by 5-year old Joyce in the back of house area of Polar Adventure. This is Joyce’s second pup; born in 2014, Joyce’s first pup is male and is thriving in the exhibit. To avoid disturbing the new-born at this early stage, its weight and gender will be determined in due course.

Mr. Grant Abel, Director of Animal Care, said, “We are thrilled to see the breeding success achieved with polar animals since the opening of Polar Adventure. Not only are different species producing new generations, the same individual animal has given birth more than once. This is a testament to the husbandry expertise and the quality of care provided by our dedicated staff.”

At another location within the Park, a harbour seal named Dash gave birth on 24 March to her third pup, which weighed 8kg. The 15-year old Dash resides at Pinniped House in Whiskers Harbour where she is nursing the new born pop.  She arrived at Ocean Park in 2000 and gave birth to a male pup in 2008.

Shortly before 1am this morning, Ocean Park’s dedicated animal care staff were saddened to witness 13-year-old dolphin Maya deliver a stillborn calf. This was Maya’s first pregnancy. Necropsy performed immediately did not reveal any particular abnormalities. However, there were macroscopic signs of foetal distress, meningeal congestion and cyanosis, which is the appearance of purplish colouration due to low oxygen levels.

Mr. Abel noted, “While we recognise there is only a success rate of 40% for first born mothers under human care and the corresponding figure for dolphins in the wild would be even lower, still we had hoped that Maya would beat the odds. We are saddened by the loss of Maya’s calf. Maya is now staying at the Marine Mammal Breeding and Research Centre for recovery; her appetite and activity level have improved throughout the day and she has started interacting with our trainers. We expect she will recover fully within a few days.”

The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has been notified of the above cases in accordance with protocol.