|The helpless baby whale|
n January 11, 1997, a newborn gray whale was rescued from a beach in Marina del Rey, CA. She had been born 7 days before she was beached. Brought to SeaWorld by truck, she was examined and it was determined that she had consumed her first milk from her mother before being separated.
That first milk (colostrum) can help defend against infection. Dr. Tom Reidarson, SeaWorld veterinarian, suspects that the orphan didn't bond well with her mother, or vice-versa. She may have been beached while the whales were migrating.
|Follow this link to an interview with Dr. Tom Reidarson!|
|SeaWorld staffer mixes up a fish shake|
The whale was given fluids right away to help fight dehydration and medicine to help fight infection. The staff then fed her a milk substitute formula that was invented by the park veterinarians for newborn killer whales. It consisted of fish, milk powder, vitamins and a heavy cream. She also received feedings of squid. She seemed to learn quickly that she would be fed when people were involved. She would swim right up to the animal care specialist. A tube would be placed in her mouth and they would wait for her to consume the formula.
More than 40 SeaWorld park animal members, veterinarians, technologists, and water professionals were involved in the round-the-clock "save the calf" battle. Every three to four hours they fed her two gallons of the formula. (Seven daily feedings!) They also worked with her to improve her suckling response with a foot-long nipple. They hoped to exchange the tube in her mouth for a bottle some time soon. Feeding her involves workers spending nearly 3 hours to prepare about 40 liters of food, not quite a full days amount.
Six days after arriving at SeaWorld, the baby whale was named "J.J." after the late Judi Jones, a registered nurse and the director of the operations for Friends of the Sea Lion. Judi died on January 13, 1997, at the age of 51.
By January 20, J.J. had gained 70 pounds and now weighed 1,840 pounds. She succeeded in learning to use a new nursing invention which used a narrow tube inside a larger one. Instead of eating 56 liters of formula, she could now eat 63 liters per day.
There are so many people interested in J.J. that SeaWorld has set up a "Shamu Hotline." More than 11,000 calls had been received by January 29 at 1-800-23-SHAMU.
|J.J. frolics in her new quarters|
On March 11, 1997, J.J. weighed 3,230 pounds and she was 16 feet, 10 inches long. She had gained 1,500 pounds and grew 3 feet since coming to SeaWorld. With J.J. being so big, they had to move her to a new pool. Her new home the "Shamu Backstage" killer whale attraction, was a 1.7 million-gallon pool that is 32 feet deep.
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