Brookfield, IL—A male dolphin calf was born to first-time mom Spree at Brookfield Zoo around 6:30 a.m. on October 28. Shortly following the birth, Spree, an inexperienced mother, was not providing adequate maternal care. Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) veterinary and animal care staff made the decision to intervene to provide necessary neonatal care. The first 30 days of life are a critical time frame for neonatal dolphins and account for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations both in the wild and under professional care, as compared to any other demographic age group.

“Animal care and veterinary staff will remain in the water providing the calf with continuous, around-the-clock care and nutritional support,” said Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM,vice president of clinical medicine for CZS. “The calf is strong and vibrant, but handrearing of dolphins is very uncommon and presents many challenges. We are hopeful for a positive outcome, but this is a guarded situation.”

Until further notice, the Seven Seas dolphin arena will remain closed so that staff can provide continuous care for this calf, as well as continually observe Tapeko and her two-week-old calf.

The Chicago Zoological Society is a leader in dolphin care and conservation and manages the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program in Florida, now in its 44th year. This program, spearheaded by Dr. Randall Wells, is the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. The program’s primary focus involves up to five generations of bottlenose dolphins residing year-round in Sarasota Bay, Florida, where the program originated in 1970. The program—which focuses on aspects including dolphins’ health, behavior, genetics, environmental change, and adverse interactions with humans—has gained an international reputation for providing high-quality information of importance to worldwide dolphin conservation efforts. The data collected are repeatedly used in scientific studies, as well as public policy decisions that can help protect marine animals. Through 2013, 30 doctoral dissertation projects and 30 Master’s thesis projects have benefited from association with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, through field research opportunities or access to samples, data, or guidance.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service.