Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Vancouver aquarium suspect pregnancy of one of their dolphins

Blood test results show that Hana, one of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Pacific white-sided dolphins is likely pregnant. It is hoped that an ultrasound will confirm a birth due sometime in the next few months. The average gestation period for these animals is 12 months.

“Absolute confirmation will come when we can see the dolphin calf through the use of ultrasound technology,” said Clint Wright, Vice President of Operations & Animal Management. “We hope to conduct that procedure soon.” The Aquarium’s high level of veterinary care involves training animals to perform medical behaviours on a voluntary and cooperative basis.

Trainers have been working with Hana to prepare her for an ultrasound. During this harmless procedure, she will be asked to float at the surface of the water while a member of the Aquarium’s veterinary team examines her sides and abdomen with the ultrasound device. Given her progress to date, the Aquarium expects to be able to conduct the procedure within the next week or so. Last fall, 11-year-old Hana arrived at the Aquarium with another Pacific white-sided dolphin, Helen, 18. Both came from Enoshima Aquarium in Japan, where they received extensive medical attention after becoming accidentally entangled in fishing nets.

They have continued their rehabilitation and training in Vancouver. When Hana arrived, she was initially called by her rehabilitation number, Eight. Following a naming contest, she was renamed Hana, which means flower or blossom. As a rehabilitation animal, Hana had minimal training when she arrived. But since that time, trainers have been working with her on animal husbandry and other training.

Over the past few months she has advanced considerably. Based on blood tests and behavioural observations, Hana appears to be in excellent health. She is still very active and shows little outward appearance of being pregnant. Once more is known, the Aquarium will provide visitors and the media with additional information.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"