A baby killer whale or orca belonging to the dolphin family found stranded in New Zealand has died, after a huge effort to reunite him with his mother failed.
Toa washed ashore near the capital Wellington 10 days ago, prompting a desperate search to find his family in nearby waters.
Believed to be two to six months old and about 2.5 meters long, the orphan could not survive alone in the ocean.
His fate gripped the nation, with hundreds of people volunteering to help the nationwide search.
Toa was separated from his pod and found by two teenagers in a rockpool in Plimmerton, north of Wellington.
Conservationists placed him in a makeshift pool, where he was fed via a special teat every four hours.
A fleet of aircraft and on-shore observers scoured hundreds of miles of coastline for Toa’s pod in the hope his mother could be found.
But Whale Rescue, an organisation that had been helping care for Toa, said his condition suddenly deteriorated on Friday. Vets rushed to help but were unable to save him.
“We have to report that a little time ago Toa passed away,” the organisation said. “As you can all imagine we are devastated.”
The team had hoped to reunite Toa with his mother, or if that failed, have him adopted by another pod.