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Ocean Park

Infection kills endangered Chinese sturgeon at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park

Fish, from one of nation’s most protected species, was observed to have reduced appetite and signs of a gill infection

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 8:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 11:58am

A rare Chinese sturgeon raised in Hong Kong’s iconic Ocean Park died on Tuesday due to severe disease.

The captive-bred fish was a second filial generation Acipenser sinensis, a species dating back 140 million years and found on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of endangered animals.

It died at 8.45am after failing to recover from severe multi-systemic infectious disease despite continuous medical treatment and supportive care.

Since the first batch of these fish – which are among the nation’s most protected species – arrived from the mainland in 2008, 11 individuals have died, including the most recent case.

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Ten captive-bred members of the critically endangered species remain at the park’s Chinese Sturgeon Aquarium – Yangtze Exploration attraction, as part of a research collaboration with the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute.

In the most recent case, the sturgeon was observed to have had several episodes of reduced appetite since December, as well as signs of a gill infection, a park spokesman said.

Despite targeted medical therapy such as antibiotic and antifungal medications, the illness progressed, until the fish eventually succumbed.

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Initial necropsy results confirmed the presence of multi-systemic infectious disease, the spokesman said.

Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, as well as the Beijing Aquarium, the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on the mainland were notified about the death of the sturgeon.

Suzanne Gendron, the park’s executive director of Zoological Operations and Conservation, said: “We are working closely with the institute to identify and understand the cause of the infection that affected the fish, in order to increase survivorship of sturgeon under human care in the future.”