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Orphaned Female Orcha Is Healthy

July 3, 2002

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SEATTLE (AP) _ An orphaned female orca has passed all medical tests and is ready to be reunited with her family in Canadian waters, officials said Tuesday.

``She’s got a ticket, her bags are packed and we’re just waiting for word from the Canadians,″ said Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Gorman said U.S. researchers gave results of the orca’s final medical tests to their Canadian counterparts over the weekend. The whale has no communicable diseases and an itchy skin condition and internal problem that made her breath smell like paint thinner have cleared up.

``She’s behaving like a healthy, active young whale,″ Gorman said.

Officials hope the 2-year-old, 1,240-pound killer whale will rejoin her family, or pod, when they make their annual summer visit to waters east of Vancouver Island.

The whale was first spotted in mid-January. She was captured June 13 because of concerns about her health and because she was endangering herself and boaters. She has since been under close watch in a holding pen in Puget Sound.

Researchers believe her pod left her behind after her mother died, and she found her way into Puget Sound.

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