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Beluga whale euthanized during rescue from French river

During a rescue operation, a dangerously thin animal began to have trouble breathing

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Associated Press

Associated Press

Veterinarians take care of a beluga whale that was stranded in the River Seine at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 9, 2022.
A veterinarian takes care of a beluga stranded in the Seine, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northern France, August 9, 2022 Photo credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER /Via AFP Getty Images

PARIS — The beluga whale, who accidentally turned the Seine and became a French celebrity, has died after experiencing health complications. He was euthanized Wednesday during an emergency rescue operation, officials said.

A glowing white marine mammal appeared deep in France last week. The beluga whales have accidentally strayed from their normal marine migration routes in and out of the Arctic Ocean.

Fearing that the malnourished whales would not survive in the Seine any longer, wildlife groups and veterinarians moved the missing whales to a saltwater port in Normandy and from there returned them to the open sea. planned.

A team of 80 people assembled to save the animal's life successfully moved it from the river locks of Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck on Tuesday night. A journey of 160 kilometers to the port of Ouistreham.

Rescuers pull up a net after they rescued a beluga whale stranded in the River Seine to bring it into a truck to drive it towards Ouistreham (Calvados), at Notre Dame de la-Garenne, northern France, on August 10, 2022. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)
Rescuers rescue a stranded beluga whale , pulled up the net. River Seine carrying trucks to Wistrham (Calvados) in Notre-Dame-de-la-Garenne, northern France, August 10, 2022. (Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

But according to Florence Olivet Courtois, a French veterinarian involved in the rescue operation, during the drive , the 4-meter (13-foot) long whale began to have trouble breathing.

"During the transfer, the veterinarian noted a deterioration in its condition, particularly respiratory activity, while at the same time noticing that the animal was in pain and not breathing adequately. said Courtois.

"The animal's suffering was so obvious that it was important to de-stress it, so it had to be euthanized," she added.

Environmentalists acknowledged that plans to move beluga whales risked fatal stress on mammals. He said he could not have survived any longer.

The group and veterinarians noted that the whale had responded to a mixture of antibiotics and vitamins over the last few days and hoped it would recover if returned to a saltwater environment.

An autopsy is planned for a whale weighing approximately 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).

A rescue team hoped the whale could save the fate of a killer whale who died in her May after wandering into the Seine. In 2006, a banded whale, affectionately known as 'Willy', died while attempting to rescue him as he migrated up the Thames to London.

Another factor complicating the beluga rescue effort was the extreme heat that hit France. Officials tried to keep them cool and damp with damp towels and moved them to nightfall, when temperatures were at their lowest.

Guillaume L'Ericole, deputy governor of France's Calvados region, has a sad ending to a story that recently hit France after experts determined the whale was "too weak to be put back into the water."

Rescue teams have been trying to feed the whale fish since Friday, but without success. Sea Shepherd in France said veterinary examinations after the beluga whales were removed from the river showed no digestive activity.

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