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Georgia Aquarium whale gets vet treatment

ATLANTA (AP) - One of the Georgia Aquarium's five prized beluga whales has received veterinary treatment for possible respiratory complications and skin lesions, officials said Tuesday.

Gasper, a male beluga whale brought to the Atlanta aquarium after being rescued from a Mexico City amusement park, undewent a medical examination Tuesday by a team of veterinarians and specialists.

Officials moved him to a secondary holding pool, where caretakers can provide him with appropriate medical care and more aggressively treat his lesions.

''Gasper was showing the first signs of not feeling well, and we decided to bring him into an area where we can more closely observe and work with him,'' said Dr. Howard Krum, manager of veterinary services, said in a statement.

The whale came to the Georgia Aquarium in October grossly underweight and with skin lesions. Veterinary staff members then tried to diagnose what was causing the lesions.

''We believe that the skin lesions and respiratory complications are symptoms of the underlying cause of Gasper's ailment,'' Tim Binder, the aquarium's animal husbandry director said in the statement. ''We are using every resource, inside and outside the Aquarium, to diagnose the underlying cause.''

Gasper's skin lesions were treated with an antimicrobial ointment developed by the University of Georgia. Aquarium officials also put the whale on a high-calorie diet to bring him back to the weight appropriate for an animal of his size. Officials said he has gained ''a significant amount of weight'' and is approaching 1,400 pounds.

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Georgia Aquarium: http://www.georgiaaquarium.org