A 7-year-old bottlenose dolphin at Brookfield Zoo has died after contracting an illness that caused acute respiratory failure, zoo officials announced Friday.
Magic, one of seven dolphins in the zoo’s collection, died Dec. 16 “despite immediate intervention” by zoo veterinarians, according to a press release.
“Preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) findings confirmed that an illness had rapidly affected Magic’s lungs,” the press release stated. “Additional diagnostic testing for specific infectious diseases is underway.”
The veterinary staff at Brookfield Zoo did administer a COVID-19 test, but the result was negative.
Magic had a history of lung and airway ailments, according to the press release, and in 2018 was diagnosed with pulmonary mucormycosis.
“This disease is caused by a common environmental fungus that can lead to rare opportunistic infections in a variety of animals, including people, when it enters the body through the lungs or a break in the skin,” the zoo press release stated. “Effective treatment of the disease can be very difficult.”
Treatments had resulted in the disease regressing dramatically over the past year, and Magic reportedly had been “in great health until he deteriorated acutely on December 16.”
“We are all just devastated by the loss of Magic. From his birth, he has held a special place in the hearts of our marine mammal and veterinary staff who cared for him,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs for CZS.
Born in 2013 at Brookfield Zoo, Magic was hand-raised by zoo staff after his first-time mother did not provide adequate care. It was the first time Brookfield Zoo staff had successfully hand-reared a dolphin calf, according to the press release.
“The dedication and attentiveness that staff have provided to Magic since his birth demonstrate the commitment and passion they have for the animals in their care,” said Zeigler. “Magic’s death has been very difficult for all of the Chicago Zoological Society family and he will be greatly missed.”
According to the press release, the six dolphins remaining in the zoo’s collection remain in good health.