Australians mourn baby whale 'Colin'
Friday 22 August 2008
In the end, there was little that could be done for Colin, the baby humpback whale whose slow and sad decline ended with a lethal injection today. For nearly a week, efforts to save the abandoned calf had transfixed Australians, been discussed on internet chat rooms and made headlines around the world.
But Colin, first sighted on Sunday trying to suckle from a yacht moored in Pittwater, north of Sydney, had little hope of surviving without its mother, and attempts failed to lure the mammal out to sea in the hope that it would be adopted by a passing pod of humpbacks.
Wildlife experts and even a whale whisperer had been brought in to try to save the 14ft animal, which was serenaded with songs, stroked by vets and gently encouraged to make its way back to the ocean. There had been talk of force-feeding it with baby formula through a tube, but the calf was clearly dying and euthanasia seemed the only option.
Even that idea was bound to cause controversy in this nation of whale-lovers, whose campaigning over the past 30 years has helped to save the humpback from extinction. Outraged animal rights activists tried to win a stay of execution. They organised a legal injunction against the National Parks and Wildlife Service to prevent Colin being put down, but they were unable to serve it in time.
After a search the night before proved fruitless, soon after daybreak, the whale was spotted and veterinary officers moved in to sedate it. For a few minutes it thrashed around as marine workers coaxed the struggling Colin to shore, hoisted the two-ton whale on to a tarpaulin and pulled it into a tent.
A few onlookers cried, “Shame! Shame!” One likened it to the Japanese slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean. Alexander Littingham, who watched the spectacle, branded the scene as “absolutely disgusting”. He added: “They have towed him behind the boat, scenes reminiscent of what we’ve seen the Japanese fishing trawlers do.” Cherie Curchod, who lives nearby, claimed the calf continued to thrash around after being given six injections. “It was so upsetting because euthanasia is meant to be an easy death and that whale did not have an easy death at all,” she said.
But John Dengate, of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, said: “That was the best way it could have been done; you put the animal out of its misery.” The calf had suffered shark-inflicted injuries and was having problems breathing. “The last thing we want is that the whale should suffer,” he added.
An autopsy will be performed on the carcass at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo to establish what was wrong. One assumption has already been proved mistaken. On close inspection, Colin turned out to be a female, so was promptly rechristened Colleen.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial first week: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters around the world describe hopes and dreams in touching photographs
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...