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1 March 2012 Management of Twin Pregnancy and Perinatal Concerns in a Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)
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Abstract

A 22-yr-old multiparous beluga, Delphinapterus leucas, with consistently elevated serum progesterone concentrations post–artificial insemination was diagnosed with viable twins at 149 days postconception. Twins were of similar size at least until day 264, the last point when ultrasound measurements of both twins were made. However, ultrasound was used to determine the viability of both fetuses on days 365, 393, and 400. After 90% of normal gestation, or 434 days, steroids were administered to encourage fetal lung maturation. Seven days later a 40.9-kg live female calf was delivered headfirst. A second 22.7-kg stillborn calf was delivered in fluke-first presentation 8 hr later. Immediately after birth, the live calf was administered surfactant intratracheally. The next day, it was given beluga immunoglobulin intramuscularly, and started on oral antibiotics and provided nutritional support via an oral gastric tube. The calf started nursing voluntarily on day 3. Antibiotic and nutritional support was discontinued on day 10. Bimonthly weight and length measurements demonstrated that after an initial increased growth rate, the calf has grown within normal parameters after birth. This calf represents the first known successful surviving twin of any cetacean species and sets an important precedent for treatment modalities that may be available to assist the premature cetacean neonate.

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Steven Osborn, Les Dalton, Christopher Dold, and Todd Robeck "Management of Twin Pregnancy and Perinatal Concerns in a Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas)," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 43(1), 193-196, (1 March 2012). https://doi.org/10.1638/2011-0161.1
Received: 8 July 2011; Published: 1 March 2012
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