7-day-old dolphin calf dies at Brookfield Zoo

SHARE 7-day-old dolphin calf dies at Brookfield Zoo
SHARE 7-day-old dolphin calf dies at Brookfield Zoo

(BROOKFIELD) Brookfield Zoo officials are in mourning in the wake of the death of a 7-day-old dolphin calf Friday evening.

Weighing in at about 40 pounds and measuring 3.5 feet long, the male calf was born about 1:15 p.m. Dec. 12 to first-time mother Allison, a 9-year-old bottlenose, according to a statement from the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield.

Zoo officials referred to Allison as an inexperienced mother and monitored her and her son around the clock, observing the frequency and duration of nursing and the amount of time that the pair spent swimming closely to each other ­— something officials say is “critical” for the newborn to conserve energy.

After a couple of days, zoo officials report the mother and calf began showing “concerning behavioral changes in their swimming patterns.”

On Friday, zoo officials intervened in an effort to provide supportive treatment for the calf, which was having increased problems.

Despite the intervention, the calf died late Friday evening, zoo officials said. An animal autopsy has been scheduled to determine if there were other contributing factors.

“It is always a difficult decision, and one never taken lightly, whether or not to intervene when a calf appears to have challenges. One of our goals in animal care is to allow an inexperienced mother the chance to gain maternal experience, which is learned,” Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of collections and animal care for the Society, said in a statement. “The marine mammal and veterinary team did everything possible to save the calf and is extremely saddened by the loss.”

Chicago Zoological Society staff say they are mourning the death, but are now focused on the care and well-being of the dolphin group that includes five adult females, two male 1-year-old calves and a female calf born Dec. 16.

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