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Alaska aquarium cares for abandoned baby beluga whale
Rescue » Male calf separated from mother, likely by a storm, shortly after birth.

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He’s being kept out of the public’s view for now in a pool being fed warmer water and in a sanitary environment. The hope is to move him soon to a larger pool, which can be seen from behind glass inside the Alaska SeaLife Center.

It’s running about $2,000 a day to care for the calf, and that’s not including the cost of the visiting marine mammal specialists.

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Jones said the cost will strain the private, nonprofit research center’s stranding program budget for the year, and officials are talking with potential donors and possibly setting up a donation matching program for individuals. They’re also planning a 5K Wildlife Rescue Run on Aug. 4, encouraging virtual runners to sign up online to raise funds.

If the calf survives, he’ll never see the open ocean again since there is no way now for humans to teach him survival skills.

The National Marine Fisheries Service will eventually decide where he will be placed.

"There are a number of facilities that would make a great home for this young whale, with companion animals that would likely accept him into their kind of family unit," Christen said.

Since facilities that take in animals like to be part of the naming process, the Alaska SeaLife Center hasn’t given the calf a name, yet.

But that hasn’t stopped most everyone caring for him from calling him "Naknek."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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