According to staff at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan, Fuji, the first dolphin in the world to receive a prosthetic tail fin, has died of liver disease at an age estimated to be about 45.
In early October, aquarium officials observed Fuji's appetite decreasing and her swimming patterns becoming unstable. She passed away on November 1.
Fuji arrived at the aquarium in 1976, after having been captured off Ito City, on Japan's eastern shore.
In 2002, an unknown disease caused 75 percent of her tail fin to rot. Without the fin, a dolphin cannot maneuver in the water. But thanks to a rubberized prosthetic tail fin designed by aquarium officials, with manufacturing by Bridgestone Tire Company, Fuji was able to swim and dive again, and even re-learn how to jump.
Fuji birthed three calves while at the aquarium, the last one in 1995. The aquarium plans to create a special exhibit dedicated to Fuji's memory.
Hat tip Asahi Shimbun, Japan Update