A baby whale stuck in the River Thames since yesterday has been euthanised ‘to put an end to its suffering’, rescuers have said.

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said the Minke whale calf had ‘deteriorated rapidly’ over the past few hours and suffered extensive injuries during its struggle.

Hundreds gathered at Richmond Lock and Weir last night, in south-west London, after the small whale got stuck on the lock’s boat rollers at about 7.30pm.

Crowds cheered as rescuers arrived at 9pm and finally managed to free the whale four hours later to assess its condition.

But the whale wriggled free from its refloatation pontoons while being moved to a safer location and rescuers lost sight of it in the early hours of the morning.

Rescuers spotted it swimming at Teddington Lock earlier this morning but after the whale became stationary in the water up against a wall, they said it was unlikely to survive.

After medical assessment, the BDMLR decided it would be kindest to put the mammal to sleep and London Zoo vets euthanised it on Monday evening.

Speaking as the whale was put down, Julia Cable, of the BDLMR, explained: ‘They will give the whale a large anaesthetic dose which will put it to sleep. It’s as straight forward as that.

‘The vets explained to me they will inject it near the liver and the anaesthetic will slowly go through the system. I can’t tell you how long that will be.

‘The whale shouldn’t feel anything. They are just putting it to sleep.’

‘It’s always sad but we know putting it back into the open sea would’ve been sending it to starve,’ she added.

‘It’s nutritionally in a poor state, it has run out of energy and will be dehydrated and starved.

‘It’s been separated from its mother or a group and will definitely be socially dependant.’

She had said earlier that the whale was ‘as good as stranded’ and had suffered a number of stranding injuries.

More to follow…

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