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Mystic Aquarium beluga whale dies

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MYSTIC, Conn. (AP) - Mystic Aquarium staff and visitors are mourning the loss of a 33-year-old female beluga whale that died after a prolonged respiratory illness.

Aquarium officials say Naku the beluga died Saturday night despite extraordinary efforts by aquarium veterinarians and animal care staff.

Tracy Romano, the aquarium's executive vice president of research and zoological operations, says Naku had battled the illness since last fall. Aquarium officials are working with University of Connecticut experts in performing a necropsy on the beluga, which had been part of the aquarium's collection for three decades.

The aquarium's beluga whales have been a popular attraction for years, occupying three connected pools with more than 750,000 gallons of water in the Arctic Coast exhibit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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