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Learning English - Words in the News
22 August, 2008 - Published 13:31 GMT
Sad story of Colin the whale
Colin the whale

A baby whale abandoned by its mother in the waters off north Sydney has been put down after vets decided it could not survive on its own. The 4.5 metre long animal has been called Colin and its story has interested the whole country. This report from Nick Bryant:

Listen to the story

Two things have captured the Australian national imagination this week - the Beijing Olympics and the plight of Colin, the baby humpback whale. Ever since Sunday, the injured and abandoned whale has been creating headlines, with tear-inducing stories of how it tried to suckle the hulls of boats, which it apparently mistook for its mother.

Officials believe the one to two month old calf was abandoned, possibly because it was ill. But their attempts to lure it out to sea in the hope it would attach itself to a passing pod of humpback whales failed.

Colin kept on swimming back to the waters off north Sydney. Since the whale was being breast fed, there was no way of feeding him. So the decision was taken to put it down. The whale was first given a sedative to relax it, then a lethal dose of anaesthetic. With Colin apparently being attacked by sharks, vets and marine researchers concluded it was the only humane option.

Nick Bryant, BBC, Sydney

Listen to the words

put down
killed in a kind, painless way to stop pain and suffering

captured the Australian national imagination
has been of great emotional interest to the people of Australia

the plight of
the difficult and sad situation of

tear-inducing stories
reports which make people cry

to suckle
to feed like a young animal that takes milk from its mother

to lure it out to sea
to guide and lead it away from shallow water

a passing pod of humpback whales
a group of similar whales that was moving through the area

a lethal dose of anaesthetic
an amount of pain-killing medicine that would cause death

the only humane option
the best and kindest thing to do to stop the suffering of Colin because there was no chance of his surviving

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