The Shedd Aquarium announced today that one of their original beluga whales, Puiji, died Wednesday, Oct. 28. She was 25.
She had been at Shedd since 1989 and was there when the museum’s Oceanarium opened.
Puiji, an octogenarian in whale years, had lately not been feeling well, according to Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training. The staff had been monitoring her for several months.
Then Wednesday, a change in the beluga’s behaviors signaled a rapid decline in her health, and despite nonstop emergency care, she experienced an arresting seizure. The veterinarians worked for 45 minutes to resuscitate Puiji, to no avail.
The cause of death has not been determined, but a necropsy is being performed.
Biologists don’t know how long belugas live in the wild. In aquariums and zoos, they can live to be 25 to 30 years old although, as with people, longevity varies with individuals.