A dolphin calf found drowning in a tide pool in Thailand is on the road to recovery after being lovingly cared for.
The Irrawaddy calf, sick and too weak to swim, was spotted by fishermen, who alerted marine experts and transferred to a specialist center in Rayong.
Named Paradon, which roughly translates to “brotherly burden,” the dolphin was placed in a pool of seawater, treated for a lung infection and watched around the clock by volunteers.
She had to keep him in his tank and feed him milk through a tube.
Veterinarian Thanaphan Chomchuen said: “We told each other that his chances of survival were quite low, judging by his condition.
“Normally, the dolphins that are stranded on the coast are usually in such terrible conditions.
“The chances of these dolphins surviving are normally very, very slim. But we gave it our best shot that day.”
A month after being rescued, Paradon’s condition is improving.
He is believed to be four to six months old, can swim again and has no signs of infection, although he is still weak and not drinking enough milk despite being fed every 20 minutes.
Thippunyar Thipjuntar, a 32-year-old financial advisor, is one of the volunteers volunteering to look after Paradon.
He said that with her round baby face and curved mouth that looks like a smile, she couldn’t help but get attached to him.
“He doesn’t eat enough but he wants to play. I’m worried that she’s not getting enough nutrition,” she told The Associated Press as she fed the sleeping Paradon, cradled in her arm.
“When you invest your time, physical effort, mental focus and money to come here to volunteer, of course you want it to grow strong and survive.”
Sumana Kajonwattanakul, director of the marine research center, said Paradon will need long-term care, perhaps up to a year, until it is weaned from milk and can hunt for its own food.
“If we only let him go when he gets better, the problem is that he won’t be able to drink milk. We will have to take care of him until he has teeth, then we will have to train him to eat fish, and be part of a pod. This will take quite some time,” said Sumana.
Irrawaddy dolphins, considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, are found in the shallow coastal waters of South and Southeast Asia and in three rivers in Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Their survival is threatened by habitat loss, pollution and illegal fishing.
Marine research center officials believe around 400 Irrawaddy dolphins remain along the country’s eastern coast, bordering Cambodia.