Resorts World Sentosa dolphin died of 'bacteria poisoning'

Adrian Lim My Paper AsiaOne 4 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE - The dolphin which died when it was transported from the Philippines to Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park on Nov 22 "succumbed to an acute bacterial infection", the resort said in a blog post yesterday.

Revealing the findings of a final pathology report, the resort said no evidence could be found to pinpoint the source of the infection.

Thorough medical examinations done before the dolphin, called Wen Wen, and others were transported showed that they were all healthy.

Wen Wen, a male dolphin about 10 years old, was one of 11 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins flown from Subic Bay in a three-hour flight.

Less than an hour before the plane landed in Singapore, it "died suddenly", said a Marine Life Park spokesman that day.

Another batch of 14 dolphins had arrived here on Nov 19.

The Agri-food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore gave approval for the 24 dolphins to be released from quarantine on Dec 24.

Resorts World Sentosa added yesterday that "based on the close observation and medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident".

The resort did not reveal a date when the public would be able to see the animals, but said it would be in the "very near future, through progressive stages of introduction".

The dolphins are expected to be part of an interactive programme at Marine Life Park.

Since they were acquired in 2008 and 2009, the wild- caught dolphins have been a source of controversy between the resort and animal-welfare groups, which have called for them to be released back to the wild.

Twenty-seven dolphins were initially acquired, but two died in Langkawi in October 2010, reportedly due to a water-borne bacterial infection.

Mr Louis Ng, executive director of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), said it does not add up how Wen Wen, who was found to be healthy before the flight, got the infection and died in a few hours.

He said Acres is still waiting for the resort to reply to an invitation to a public debate it plans to hold later this month regarding the dolphins.

Tests show dolphin died from bacterial infection: RWS
Ng Kai Ling Straits Times 4 Jan 13;

A DOLPHIN that died in transit to Singapore last November was killed by an acute bacterial infection of unknown origin, said Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) on its blog yesterday.

It said the remaining 24 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins bound for its marine attraction had been approved by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) for release from quarantine on Christmas Eve.

Dolphin Wen Wen was among a batch of 11 being flown from the Philippines to Singapore on Nov22, but it died en route. The first 14 had arrived three days earlier.

RWS issued a statement about the death on the same day.

It said on its Marine Life Park blog that the final pathology report indicated the male dolphin, estimated to be 10 years old, a prime age for the species, had succumbed to infection.

"The laboratory tests yielded evidence that infection was bacterial in nature, but there was no evidence of the causative bacteria," said a company spokesman.

The tests were conducted by the University of Illinois' College of Veterinary Medicine in the United States and the AVA in Singapore.

RWS added that there was "no evidence of the origins of the infection", but that all the dolphins had been cleared for export.

They were caught in the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, and had been kept at a facility in Subic Bay in the Philippines since 2008 while the Marine Life Park was being constructed.

"Based on close observation and the medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident," RWS said.

Dolphin experts said it would be difficult to ascertain where or how Wen Wen had caught the bacteria, but it is rare for dolphins to die in transit.

Biologist Elizabeth Taylor of the National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute said bacteria can be found everywhere in the environment, but not all lead to sickness or death. She said it was not likely that the dolphin had caught the bug on the plane. "I would think that this company would take the best precautions to keep the animals healthy," she said.

Ms Courtney Vail, the campaigns manager at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said research shows that transporting dolphins produces a change in stress hormone levels similar to what occurs in humans during stressful situations.

"It is well-established that chronic stress can lead to immuno-suppression and susceptibility to disease," she added.

The dolphins are not yet on show at the 8ha Marine Life Park, which opened on Nov 22.

Animal rights groups are calling for the rehabilitation and release of the dolphins back to the wild.

Dolphin 'died of bacterial infection'
All animals were healthy prior to move and infection is an isolated incident, says RWS
Today Online 4 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE - Wen Wen, the male dolphin that died en route to Resorts World Sentosa's (RWS) Marine Life Park, was killed by an acute bacterial infection, according to results of laboratory tests carried out here and in the United States.

However, the origins of the infection could not be determined, RWS said in a post on the oceanarium's blog yesterday.

"The final pathology report indicates that Wen Wen succumbed to an acute bacterial infection. There was, however, no evidence on the origins of the infection," RWS said.

It concluded that the infection was "an isolated incident" and reiterated that the dolphin, as well as the 24 others transported here in November last year, were given a clean bill of health prior to the flight from the Philippines.

"Medical examinations prior to the transport, including full haematology and chemistry profiles as well as cytology and body examinations, indicated that all animals were healthy prior to the move," RWS said.

"Based on the close observation and medical status of our dolphins, and the successful completion of the quarantine assessment, we believe the infection was an isolated incident."

The dolphin died mid-flight on Nov 22, a day after Marine Life Park was opened to the public.

RWS' acquisitions of 27 dolphins from the Solomon Islands in 2008 and 2009 for its Marine Life Park had stirred some to call for the animals to be rehabilitated into the wild.

The calls intensified when Wen Wen became the third dolphin to have died, after two dolphins died in 2010, also from bacterial infections, while they were in a holding area in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The remaining 24 dolphins could be available for public viewing "in the very near future" after the park said it had received the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore's approval for them to be released from quarantine.

"Our dolphins are healthy and have adjusted well to their new home through the diligent care of our marine mammal staff and veterinary professionals," it said.

"We look forward to letting the dolphins meet the public in the very near future through progressive stages of introduction."

Marine Life Park dolphins released from quarantine
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 3 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE: The dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park have been released from quarantine and are expected to meet the public soon.

The park said the 24 dolphins have received the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore's (AVA) approval for their release.

It added the mammals have adjusted well to their new home through the care of its staff and veterinary professionals.

The park looks forward to let the dolphins meet the public through progressive stages of introduction.

It also gave updates on the laboratory tests on the male dolphin that died on the flight to Singapore from the Philippines.

The final pathology report indicated that Wen Wen had succumbed to an acute bacterial infection.

There was, however, no evidence on the origins of the infection.

Medical examinations prior to the transport indicated that all animals were healthy prior to the move.

The park believes the infection was an isolated incident.

Recently, the park attracted controversy for its import of dolphins.

- CNA/xq

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