PARIS (AP) – A beluga whale that captured French hearts when it showed up in the Seine River had to be euthanised yesterday after it was successfully removed from the French waterway, authorities said.
A rescue team was preparing to transfer the whale to a saltwater pool in Normandy. The male marine mammal was first spotted in the Seine last week after having accidentally veered off its normal path to the Arctic.
During the rescue operation, the dangerously thin animal began to have breathing difficulties, and so experts decided the most humane thing to do was to euthanise the creature.
“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French wild animal expert, said. “The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanise it.”
Conservation group Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity. Members of the organisation had tried unsuccessfully since last Friday to feed fish to the whale.
Courtois said the whale experienced distress after it was moved to a refrigerated truck and during the approximately 160-kilometre drive to the Normandy coast.