SeaWorld Orlando’s Aquatica Waterpark suffered a loss on Saturday night when a Commerson’s dolphin died just moments after being born.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the newborn calf was born to a 16-year-old dolphin named Ringer, the only female Commerson’s dolphin at Aquatica, and one of only four Commerson’s dolphins at SeaWorld.
Ringer had originally been transferred from SeaWorld San Diego to SeaWorld Orlando in early 2016 after suffering multiple failed pregnancies. She had been put on birth control to prevent further incidents, but became pregnant while living in her new home.
SeaWorld explained in a blog post that they tried diligently to care for Ringer during her pregnancy and, subsequently, to save the calf following the birth.
“While unexpected, Ringer's pregnancy was important to our animal care and veterinary teams,” wrote SeaWorld on its SeaWorld Cares blog. “Throughout her entire pregnancy, the teams put a great deal of planning and thought into preparing for the birth to help set Ringer and the calf up for success.”
Ultimately, though, the animal care team at SeaWorld was unable to resuscitate the newborn dolphin after it began showing signs of distress, and the calf died shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Orlando Sentinel also reported that, earlier this month, a marine life specialist at the Animal Welfare Institute did not think Ringer would be able to successfully birth a calf at SeaWorld, calling the institution “hardly ideal” for breeding.
“This dolphin should never have been allowed to get pregnant,” said Naomi Rose of the AWI in an email to the Orlando Sentinel. “It's all such a waste and very much not good welfare practice, to allow reproduction when the odds are so against a successful outcome.”
However, SeaWorld insisted that Ringer had been placed under 24-hour surveillance during the last month of her gestation, and that their team responded “immediately” once the calf needed help.
SeaWorld reports that Ringer is currently doing well at their facility, despite the loss of her calf.
“She successfully passed the placenta after giving birth and has begun to eat again. She is still under 24-hour observation by our care teams and is not on display at the park. We remain committed to her care and well-being.”
SeaWorld also confirmed that they will be conducting a necropsy to determine the exact cause of the calf’s death.