03/14/05 10:54 PM
Bob passes away at NAIB


Baltimore, MD. (AP) A breeding dolphin on loan from Walt Disney World was euthanized after a six-month battle with a severe infection, officials with the National Aquarium announced Monday.

"This is a very difficult time for staff, who have poured enormous time and energy into helping Bob recover," Sue Hunter, director of marine mammals and animal programs for the aquarium, said in a statement posted to the aquarium's web site. "The trainers and aquarium staff grew very attached to Bob and we will miss him."

The death of the 500-pound dolphin named Bob follows the deaths of two dolphin calves last year. In April, an unnamed 10-day-old male calf died from bacterial meningitis. In July, a 4-month-old calf named Bridget died after she was roughed up by older male dolphins. Her death was blamed on pre-existing pneumonia.

The aquarium's other eight dolphins, including three born at the aquarium, are all in good health, the statement said.

Bob, who was in his mid-20s, arrived in Baltimore in March 2003 and was on breeding loan from the Living Seas at Epcot exhibit at Walt Disney World.

Trainers noticed Bob's loss of appetite in September. Tests indicated he had been fighting the problem for a while. In addition to oral and injectable antibiotics, the aquarium's staff designed and built a nebulizer to deliver aerosolized medication directly to his lungs, the aquarium said.

His condition improved in late November, but worsened late last month, and he steadily lost weight and was clearly suffering, the statement said.

"Bob's infection was severe. We knew when he pulled through his first bout with it last fall that we would be treating him for a lifelong infection," said Brent Whitaker, the aquarium's director of animal health. "Bob received the best medical care available and we are saddened that even with exhaustive treatment, it wasn't enough."

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