It’s a tragic week in Shizuoka, Japan after a record-breaking captive dolphin named Nana passed away at the Shimoda Aquarium.
Image Credit: Shimoda Aquarium
Staff discovered the lifeless dolphin on Tuesday, but the cause of death isn't known as of this writing. Animal experts are planning an autopsy to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Nana’s death.
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Those familiar with the dolphin say she began snubbing food at the beginning of October, which is a distinctive sign of an animal coming to grips with the end of its life. That said, aquarium staff knew her time was coming; it wasn't a matter of if, but instead, when.
While most bottlenose dolphins are fortunate to live 10-15 years, Nana was somewhere around 47 years of age. She spent nearly 43 of those years under human care, and her age speaks for how well her captors cared for her.
Regarding the record that she held, Nana spent more time in captivity than any other Japan-based dolphin. She became renowned for her feat, and visitors of the aquarium enjoyed seeing her in person.
"We feel sorry as we were hoping she would live longer. We will use the experience gained by rearing her for this long period to take care of other dolphins," said one of Shimoda Aquarium’s employees.
"Nana was a symbol of our aquarium and had attracted a lot of fans with her cute behavior," another employee said. "We miss her so much."
Not only did Nana play an instrumental role in the aquarium’s dolphin shows over the years, but she mothered eight individual calves throughout her lifetime. To say that Nana left her mark on this world would be an understatement.
While this might be the end for Nana, her legacy will live on in the hearts of her fans. Aquarium staff will use what they learned while raising Nana to ensure that the aquarium's next dolphin lives a fulfilling life.