2 December, 2013 2 December, 2013

Baby Dolphin Dies After Valiant Rescue Attempt By Surfers

A heartwarming story turned heartbreaking yesterday at KZN’s Umhlanga beach when a juvenile dolphin lost its life after being cared for and kept alive by local surfer Chris Leppan, his girlfriend Asha Irvine and the Umhlanga lifeguards for more than an hour and a half in shallow bluebottle infested waters.


The baby dolphin lost its fight to live while being transported back to the uShaka aquarium, and a heartbroken Chris asked the question whether more could have been done to save the orphaned dolphin.

We contacted Ann Kunz from Seaworld, who informed us that they had done all they could to save the dolphin, but it sadly died on the way to the aquarium. Initial autopsy results indicated that blood had found its way into the young dolphin’s lungs and that it was having trouble breathing – which is most likely why it beached itself initially in order to breathe more freely.

Chris reported that Seaworld appeared to be unprepared for transporting the young dolphin, with only a mattress in the back of their bakkie. When asked about this Kunz responded by saying, “I can understand Chris’ concern as he would have developed a very close bond with the baby having spent more than an hour with it until we arrived. A vet was present at the scene and during transportation, and there was little more we could have done to save it as its situation was critical.”

Kunz also went on to point out the fact that Seaworld is Africa’s leading educator on marine animals with more than 20 years of school tours and daily visitors coming to learn more about the ocean and its creatures. She also invited both Chris and Zigzag to come and take a look around their rehab centre – where they currently care for a number of sick or injured animals, and where they would have cared for the baby dolphin had it survived.


Seaworld is an accredited member of PAAZAB – the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria.


  1. brad coetzee
    2 December, 2013 at 11:29 am · Reply

    Good effort Chris! It is unfortunate that the Dolphin died but at least it wasn’t alone. I thank you and Asha personally for doing your best!

  2. Michael
    2 December, 2013 at 11:38 am · Reply

    Good on you Chris

  3. JHL
    2 December, 2013 at 2:11 pm · Reply

    Sad but great effort! Onya for trying guys!

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