Sick seal pup found stranded is destroyed

March 05, 1991|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Unable to eat by itself and losing a fight against bacterial and viral infections, a 9-month-old harbor seal pup found stranded in tTC Virginia Beach, Va., Jan. 2 has been destroyed by lethal injection at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Aquarium veterinarian Brent Whitaker said his staff and volunteers worked "around the clock" for two months to save the pup. But his condition became critical Sunday, and the decision was made to destroy him.

A second pup found injured on another Virginia beach Jan. 29 and brought to Baltimore for treatment is reported in good health and gaining weight. He is due for release off Cape Cod, Mass., perhaps next month, Whitaker said.

Whitaker said he believes the pup would be the first to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild by the National Aquarium staff.

When the first pup was brought to Baltimore, he was malnourished, had lungworm, blood poisoning and pneumonia. After two months of treatment and force-feedings of high-calorie formula, he had increased his weight from 31 to 52 pounds, but would not eat on his own and continued to be plagued by infection.

"His situation would improve periodically, and then he'd fall back," Whitaker said. "We'd switch drugs and he'd improve again," then relapse.

At the end, Whitaker said, the animal had open sores believed caused by viral infections. His blood chemistry was deteriorating and he showed signs of fluid retention. A necropsy revealed early signs of heart failure and heartworm, a parasitic condition that had not been detected.

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