Orca calf rescued by teens after being abandoned by mother can undergo euthanasia in New Zealand

A leading marine biologist has said that a killer whale calf miraculously rescued by teenagers after being abandoned by its mother may need to be euthanized if not included in its old pod.

The calf, named Toa, which means brave or strong in Maori, was cared for for nearly a week by Department of Conservation staff and volunteers.

Toa was separated from his mother and found on a beach in a rock pool on July 11 in Plimmerton, New Zealand, in Plimmerton, New Zealand.

Maritime biologist Karen Stockin of Massey University has said she is concerned about the calf over his inability to learn “critical, vital life skills” while alienated from his birth pod, the NZ Herald reported.

The calf, named Toa which means brave or strong in Maori, was cared for for nearly a week by Department of Conservation staff and volunteers.

Ms Stockin explained that because the calf is probably less than three months old, Toa is too young to survive in the wild without being reunited with other whales.

She praised the efforts of national and international veterinarians and volunteers who had done “incredible work” to keep the estranged orca alive and stable.

However, Ms Stockin said volunteers had two options: transport the calf to a purpose-built facility – none of which is in New Zealand – or euthanasia.

On Monday evening, Toa was diagnosed with colic, meaning the orca may be distressed or continue to develop serious health problems.

Ms Stockin described the most recent diagnosis as the first indication that something was wrong, but added that the orca was stable Monday morning.

Toa was separated from his mother and found on the beach in a rock pool on 11 July by two teenagers in Plimmerton, north Wellington.

Toa was separated from his mother and found on the beach in a rock pool on 11 July by two teenagers in Plimmerton, north Wellington.

Maritime biologist Karen Stockin of Massey University has said she is concerned about the calf over his inability to learn 'critical, vital life skills' while alienated from his birth pod

Maritime biologist Karen Stockin of Massey University has said she is concerned about the calf over his inability to learn ‘critical, vital life skills’ while alienated from his birth pod

“But like I said, we have to consider the health of the animal and then we have to consider the welfare of the animal and they should not be considered independently,” she said.

The biologist said the process of finding Toa’s birth pod was not something that could happen overnight and was a complex and complicated scenario.

She said that even if his pod were found, the logistics of transporting him to that location would be risky and potentially stressful for the calf.

Several scenarios need to be considered, including Toa’s recognition of his pod, his reintroduction into the pack, and whether a female is nursing.

Killer whale pods have been known to adopt lost children, as long as a female orca is nursing and able to support the young.

Ms Stockin said the harsh reality of the situation was that calves up to three months of age were rarely reunited with their birth pod, even if the group was found.

Toa is currently being held in a small pool, with TVNZ reporting that $10,000 has been spent caring for the orca so far, excluding the costs of DOC staff.

Ms Stockin explained that because of his age, which is probably less than three months, Toa is too young to survive in the wild without being reunited with other whales.

Ms Stockin explained that because of his age, which is probably less than three months, Toa is too young to survive in the wild without being reunited with other whales.

However, Ms Stockin said volunteers had two options: transport the calf to a purpose-built facility - none of which is in New Zealand - or euthanasia.

However, Ms Stockin said volunteers had two options: transport the calf to a purpose-built facility – none of which is in New Zealand – or euthanasia.

When asked whether it was fair that the 2.15-meter-long orca was kept in the enclosure, Ms Stockin said there was still “some amount of debate” due to mystery surrounding his age.

She said they could safely say the orca was less than three months old, which in itself was a concern.

The biologist was also concerned about the number of DOC staff and volunteers interacting with Toa, which could make the wild animal overly dependent on humans.

‘A lot of tactile activities take place. It’s fair to say, the argument keeps coming back that they are indeed very social animals, but they are to a certain extent,” she said.

“We have an animal that has become so accustomed to human contact that it becomes increasingly difficult to even imagine that it will manage to reintegrate with the amount of human contact it has had.”

Orca Research Trust founder Ingrid Visser previously told AAP that volunteers had hoped they could reunite the calf with its pod.

The marina biologist said that even if his pod were found, the logistics of transporting Toa to that location would be risky and potentially stressful for the calf.

The marina biologist said that even if his pod were found, the logistics of transporting Toa to that location would be risky and potentially stressful for the calf.

“We put a man on the moon. Surely we can get a whale back to its family,” she said.

dr. Visser said they would most likely put a boat near the pod and then take Toa there by road or boat.

‘It is difficult to transport by helicopter. You don’t want a 200-pound animal scurrying around in a helicopter,” she said.

New Zealand is home to up to 200 orcas, according to the Department of Conservation.

Orcas, also known as killer whales, can be recognized by their distinctive black and white markings and very high, prominent dorsal fin.

Orca pods have been known to venture into Wellington Harbor during the warmer months, but they rarely linger.

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