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Newborn dolphin in critical condition due to malnutrition

2011/12/25 20:44:42

Taipei, Dec. 25 (CNA) A three-day-old dolphin at an ocean park in eastern Taiwan was reported by staff Sunday to be in critical condition after failing to suckle.

The bottlenose dolphin was born Dec. 22 at the Hualien Farglory Ocean Park but has not learned how to feed, which normally takes eight to 12 hours for a newborn dolphin to learn, park officials said.

It said that park employees originally wanted to collect milk from the mother dolphin to feed the newborn, but the animal's protective instincts prevented staff from approaching the two.

The staff began feeding the calf milk formula to provide basic nutrition after 36 hours, but its physical condition remained weak as it was consuming so much of its energy getting to the surface to breathe, the officials added.

Dolphin mothers squirt milk from their mammary glands and the calf must learn to catch the milk while both of them continue to swim. Normally, a calf suckles for about 18 months before starting to feed on fish.

(By Andrew Liu and Jamie Wang)