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December 22, 2009

Shedd is saddened by loss of beluga calf

Shedd Aquarium is deeply saddened to announce the loss of the beluga whale calf born Sunday afternoon to 20-year-old Naya. Puiji’s calf, born on Monday, December 14, continues to progress well through his bonding and nursing milestones.

This is an extremely sad day for the Shedd Aquarium family. Over the past 48-hours we provided round-the-clock care to the calf, and this morning we became more concerned since he continued to be disoriented in his swimming and still had not reached the two critical milestones of bonding with mom and nursing. Based on our knowledge of a healthy calf, we knew something was wrong.

From his miraculous birth, to the challenges he experienced the hours following, it is clear that this calf would probably have never been born successfully, let alone survived as long as he did had it not been for the incredible care we were able to give him.

Preliminary findings from the necropsy (animal autopsy) revealed no conclusive cause of death, though further tests will be conducted over the coming months. Because these amazing animals are in our care, we’ve learned so much over the past decade about beluga whale life-cycles. That knowledge allowed us to make decisions which provided the best medical and animal care possible to this calf. There is more we will continue to learn about beluga whales as a result of this loss that will ultimately benefit beluga whales in the marine mammal community and in the wild.

As Shedd has done with all mothers following a birth, Naya will continue to remain under 24-hour observation. Naya is doing well and is currently swimming with Puiji and her calf in the Secluded Bay habitat of the Oceanarium. All three whales are currently off public view in order to provide the best animal care.

We appreciate your warm thoughts and support.

Posted by Ken Ramirez, senior vice president of animal collections and training,
and Caryn Poll, DVM, Section Chief, Medicine


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I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope everyone at Shedd is ok, including Naya,
puiji and her new calf.

I'm very sorry. I too am confident your staff are the best there is if this calf were to ever have had a chance. Best wishes.

Oh, we're so very sorry to hear this--we know you did the very best, and you must feel that in your hearts to mitigate your pain.

God, please ease the calf's passing and help those left behind.

Blessings to you.

I am so very sorry to the entire staff at Shedd for the loss of Naya's calf. I watched both births online and was moved to tears with the excitement of it all. Now I am moved to tears with this sad announcement. We know how hard this must be to care for these amazing animals everyday and then to lose one. Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone, especially Naya.
The Lallo Family of WI.

My condolences to all the staff at the Shedd. You can't work and care for these magnificent animals without caring for them deeply.

While the calf did not have a long life, and least he had some life and his mother continues to live due to your help and assistance.

I am saddened by this loss, but comforted in knowing he received the best care possible and is swimming in an ocean somewhere in heaven. We must learn and move on. Bless you all for what you do!

Our family is so very sorry for the loss of this sweet baby beluga. Our thoughts are with you all.

I am truly sorry for your loss. Please keep us informed.

I'm so sorry for the loss. I visted Shedd forth of july weekend for the first time and really saw how serious all of you were about the well being of the animals there. Maybe Naya will get another chance to have a calf.

Will Naya go through a mourning process? We are so sorry for all of you at Shedd's. We know how much you care about the animals in your care.

I am heartbroken to hear of the loss of Puiji. I worked as a volunteer for four and a half years in the Oceanarium, and established a special bond with Naya. We would often spend time alone during the over-nighters and had a special connection with each other.

Again my sincere sympathy to the Shedd family.


Dwight-Kuaika Thompson

Unfortunately, care-giving consists of the good and the bad. Sometimes even with the most meticulous planning, things can go a different way. May you find hope and peace in all of the good things that you do at the SHEDD!!!

So sorry for your loss.

What sad news from our neighbors! :(

God Bless You All at the Shedd. I am so saddened bynthe loss of this precious little Beluga baby. Please know in your hearts that you did all that you could for this little one. I pray that Naya does not suffer for her loss. You are all in my thoughts & prayers. Thank you so very much for the wonderful care you give these animals so that we are able to learn enjoy them

Diane Gibbons

So sorry to learn of this tragic loss. I was volunteering at the Oceanarium Sunday evening as a diver and feel fortunate to have gotten a sneak peak of Naya's baby. I know how hard the Shedd Team was (and still is) working to provide the best top-quality round-the-clock care to all the animals. My heart goes out to the whole team.

As a correction to the post above (Thompson) and based on my understanding (I don't represent the Shedd), the calf that passed away was Naya's baby born this Sunday (not named that I know of). Puiji or her calf born earlier this month are fine (according to this press release).


I'm so sorry to hear this and can't image the loss all of you working at Shedd must feel.

It is surely devastating for everyone who worked so dilligently to try to save the little beluga. Be consoled by knowing that you saved Naya. I was privileged to get into the water with the belugas last summer, and will always remember these wonderful animals. Deepest sympathy.

Please know that all of the Shedd staff members are in my thoughts and prayers after the death of Naya's calf. Thank you for all of the wonderful care that you have provided to the Shedd family over the years and at this difficult time.

With Deepest Sympathy,
Tricia, Maura, and Makai

So sad to hear this news. I know your staff did all they could for the calf and I am sure you are all in mourning over the loss. My deep sympathy to everyone there.

It is disappointing that you would allow a Beluga calf to die. Obviously, you are not capable of taking care of such a magnificient animal.

I am very sorry that the baby whale died. It was very sad to hear but it was very nice for you to help him all you could and we appreciate what you did for him and his mom. My first grade class is coming to visit the Shedd next month and I will talk to the whales and tell that I am very sorry their baby died.

Dear Shedd, we are sorry that the new baby whale died. We know you did all you could for him. We hope you feel better and we also feel bad. Thank you for being so caring and nice to the baby beluga.

My prayers go out to the shedd's staff.Im very sorry to hear of the passing of the baby whale. I have faith in the in the staff they r doing their best to take care of the animals.I hope the mother whale will maybe have another chance of being a mom.I recently had achance to view the new oceanview. The show is Wonderfully good.The animals all looked so great.Just always keep postive and continue on the great job u all do.
Sincerly Judy Hester

This is part of the existence and survival of beluga whales -- Shedd is important to research and to Chicago not only for what is learned through birth and life, but also what is learned through suffering and death.

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