CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Ping, a 23-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a calf at Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas at 9:12 pm on Friday.
“We are so proud of Ping and thrilled to welcome her calf to our Coral World family,” said Kristine Tartaglio, Assistant Curator of Mammals and Birds at Coral World. “Ping and calf are both doing well. We are hopeful that their good progress will continue but will remain vigilant in monitoring them both day and night to ensure they have everything they need.”
Ping was in labor through the day. She had assistance from the animal welfare specialist and veterinary team every step of the way. Both calf and Ping are getting some much-needed rest and time to bond.
“This is an exciting moment for Coral World and our community,” Trudie Prior, Coral World general manager, said. “Our dolphins have been thriving in their ocean habitat in Water Bay and this birth is a product of their being healthy and doing what comes naturally.”
“After their arrival in 2019, our aim was to get the dolphins acclimated to their new home, an ocean habitat that was very different from their previous home,” Dr. Natalie Noll, Coral World’s consulting marine mammal veterinarian, who visits the facility regularly, added, “This birth is an indication that they are doing extremely well.”
Coral World’s General Curator Lee Kellar noted, “There are still key milestones to meet that are important for the calf’s development and bonding with her mother and later her social group. We will be here to support Ping in every way we can as her calf learns and grows alongside her.”
Coral World’s other dolphins are all doing well. Ping has a support system in Noelani, a 11-year-old female who has been with her every step of the way. The other dolphins are separated from Ping, calf and Noelani and will be introduced to them when the time is right. For now, Ping and her calf need to rest and bond in relative quiet and privacy.
Meanwhile, people who read this article on social media were highly critical of the living conditions of the “captive” dolphins.
“The poor baby was bred to be captive,” Hillary Nobles said. “That makes this story sad. Baby will either remain captive at Coral World or be sold to another captive program. Coral World should be ashamed.”
“So sad there’s places that save animals that can’t live in the wild,” Jodi Elliot said. “Also sad that the animals are so healthy and happy that they are able to reproduce in captivity…what a shame.”
“This calf was bred to be captive,” Hillary Nobles added. “You should do some research on this. The pen they are in is less than two acres-did you know/care that dolphins swim hundreds of miles/day? Did u know/care that this pen is in a bay where the fecal bacteria is so bad it tests unsafe for humans 40 percent of the year? Did you know/care that when it rains, it looks like Mississippi mud? The point is-the dolphin was BRED to never be free. It will live at Coral World performing tricks for human entertainment or be sold off to another captive program-which thankfully are now being banned worldwide. A true sea sanctuary is where animals are allowed to live lives in dignity & peace-not performing tricks for entertainment for a diet of dead fish in a tiny pen.”