Sick dolphin calf gets better with tube milk, helping hands

RAYUNG, Thailand (AP) – The Irrawaddy dolphin calf – sick and too weak to swim – was drowning in a tide pool on a beach in Thailand when fishermen found it.

The fishermen quickly alerted marine rescuers, who advised them on how to provide emergency aid, so the rescue team could take the child to Thailand’s Marine and Coastal Research and Resource Center for veterinary assistance.

The child was nicknamed Paradon, loosely translated as “brotherly burden”, because the participants knew from day one that saving his life would not be an easy task.

Listed as a threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Irrawaddy dolphins are found in the shallow coastal waters of South and Southeast Asia and in three rivers in Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia. Their survival is threatened by habitat loss, pollution and poaching.

Officials from the Center for Marine Research believe there are still about 400 Irrawaddy dolphins along the country’s east coast, bordering Cambodia.

Since fishermen found Paradon on July 22, dozens of vets and volunteers have been helping him at the center in Rayong on the Gulf of Thailand.

“We said among ourselves that the chances of him surviving were very slim given his condition,” Thanavan Chomchoen, a veterinarian at the center, said on Friday. Usually, dolphins found stuck on the beach are in such a terrible state. The chances of survival for these dolphins are usually very small. But we did our best that day.”

Workers put him in a seawater pool, treated pneumonia that left him extremely ill and weak, and hired volunteers to keep an eye on him around the clock. They have to carry him into his tank to prevent him from drowning and give him milk, first with a tube, then with the bottle when he gets his strength back.

One or two vets and volunteers stay for each 8-hour shift, and the other workers take care of the water pump and filter and make milk for the calf during the day.

After a month, Paradon’s condition improves. A calf, believed to be between 4 and 6 months old, is now able to swim and shows no signs of infection. But the dolphin, which was 138 centimeters (4.5 feet) long and about 27 kilograms (59 pounds) long on July 22, is still weak and not getting enough milk, despite the team’s best efforts to get him every 20. minute. to do.

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Thippunyar Thipjuntar, a 32-year-old financial advisor, is one of the many volunteers who come to work in the childcare at Paradon.

Tipponia said Baradon’s round face and curved smiley mouth couldn’t help but cling to him and worry about his development.

“He doesn’t eat enough, but he just wants to play. I’m afraid he’s not getting enough nutrition,” she told The Associated Press on Friday as she feeds the sleeping Paradon, creaking in her arm. Here, as a volunteer, you naturally want him to be strong and live.”

Somana Kagunwatanakul, director of the naval center, said Paradon will need long-term care, perhaps up to a year, to be weaned off the milk and able to forage for food.

“If we let him go when he gets better, the problem is he can’t drink milk. We’ll have to take care of him until he has teeth, then we’ll have to teach him to eat fish, be a part of a pod. It will take some time,” said Somana.

Paradon caregivers believe that loving, comprehensive care is worth it.

“If we can save a dolphin, it will help our knowledge as there have not been many successful cases of treating this type of animal,” said vet Thanavan. “If we can save him and he survives, we’ve learned a lot from this.”

“Secondly, I think that by saving him and giving him a chance to live, we are also raising awareness about the conservation of this kind of animal, which is rare and not much left.”

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