Baby orca Toa dies after losing his family in New Zealand

Three people surrounding the baby orca in a small swimming pool while they're feeding him
People help to feed Toa, the baby orca, at a pool in Pilmerton, photo: Whale Rescue Hannah via Reuters

The stranded baby orca Toa passed away Friday in New Zealand after being separated from his family for almost two weeks. He became very ill very fast, and vets were unable to save him.

Wildlife rescuers had been looking for his family to reunite them, but they couldn’t locate them.

“We were always aware that the longer he was in captivity, away from his mother, the more likely it was that his health would deteriorate,” marine species manager Ian Angus from the Department of Conservation said in a statement.

“Toa passed quickly, surrounded by love with his last days made as comfortable as possible,” he added.

Baby orca Toa in the pool, a few days before his death

The baby orca was found stranded on rocks north of Wellington on July 11 with minor injuries. Toa, who was between two to six months old, was first brought to a sea pen in Plimmerton.

Because of a storm, he was moved a week ago into a temporary 32,000-litre seawater pool set up at the local boating club’s parking lot.

“We recognize how frustrating it is for him to be in such a small pool, so we’re keen to get him (back) into the sea pen as quickly as we can,” Marine biologist Ingrid Visser from Whale Rescue said on Thursday.

Visser and her team and many volunteers were hoping to find his mother and the rest of his family to give him a chance at life.

“As you can all imagine, we are devastated,” Whale Rescue said in a Facebook post.

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