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'Too weak' beluga whale euthanized after being removed 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 whale 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 that won the hearts of the French when it appeared in the Seine, after being successfully removed from the water , had to be euthanized on Wednesday, French waterways, officials said.

Rescue Her team was preparing to transfer the whale to a saltwater pool in Normandy. A male marine mammal was first spotted last week in the Seine after it accidentally veered off its normal route to the North Pole.

During the rescue operation, the dangerously thin animal began to have trouble breathing, and experts decided that the most humane method was to euthanize the creature.

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)
After rescuing 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 credit: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

"While traveling, veterinarians noted a deterioration in his condition, particularly respiratory activity. At the same time, We noticed that the animals were in pain and not breathing properly,” said Florence Olivet Courtois, a wildlife expert in France.

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

Nature Conservation group Sea Shepherd France said veterinary examinations after the belugas were removed from the river showed no digestive activity. Members of the organization have tried unsuccessfully to feed the whales since Friday.

After being transferred to a refrigerated truck, the whale experienced distress during the approximately 160-kilometer (99-mile) drive to the Normandy coast, Courtois said.

The whale was supposed to recover for several days in a seawater pool in the port town of Ouistreham in northeastern France before being towed out to sea.

Rescue teams had previously stated that the whale was at risk of dying due to the stress involved in the process. , was deemed to require a move.

"The decision was taken to euthanize the beluga because it was so weakened that it could not be returned to water," said Guillaume Lericole, deputy governor of Calvados, France.

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