Theo the porpoise passes in Vancouver
Rescued from a beach in Esquimalt, Theo the porpoise dies at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
He was whisked from a beach in Esquimalt to the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre in grave condition and provided with 24-hour care for 71 days, but now the harrowing tale of Theo the harbour porpoise has come to end.
With his condition suddenly deteriorating last week to the point where rescue centre staff
felt it was impossible to treat him, the decision was made to euthanize Theo on Wednesday night.
“I think the actual decision to go ahead was obvious to most people,” said Vancouver Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena. “People just didn’t want to see him suffer.”
According to Haulena, harbour porpoises have only about a 10% chance of survival once they’ve been stranded.
“There’s always hope, but the reality is that the chances are really slim,” he said.
When they rescued Theo on July 24, he was in “absolutely horrible condition,” according to Haulena.
His eyes were closed, he had lots of muscle damage, couldn’t swim on his own, had a difficult time staying afloat, had a hard time breathing, was marginally dehydrated and very emaciated, Haulena said.
Rescue Center staff and volunteers took Theo from the Songhees Nation shore where he was beached and transported him to Vancouver, where they supported his body in a pool of water until he was ready to be moved into a sling.
During the 71 days he spent at the Rescue Centre, Theo swam on his own for only nine. He improved briefly, giving hope to those who cared for him.
“He wasn’t really ever in a position to be called healthy by any stretch of the imagination, (but) he was showing signs of getting better,” Haulena said.
Then, about a week ago, things took a turn for the worse. Theo stopped eating and started vomiting. His liver was failing.
Theo’s caretakers decided to perform an emergency MRI – the first ever done on a dolphin, porpoise or whale at the Vancouver Aquarium. But the MRI gave no indication that Theo’s deteriorating condition was treatable.
Over 5,000 hours went into Theo’s care during the two months he spent at the Rescue Centre.
“The last week was very difficult for a lot of us,” Haulena said.
“So much work goes into this – it’s so intensive, and one-on-one – you have no choice
but to bond with this little guy and empathize with him.”