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Brookfield Zoo dolphins (left to right) Noelani, 5, Allison, 3, and Tapeko, 27.

Brookfield Zoo’s Dolphins Relocate to Minnesota during Home Makeover
Seven Seas to Reopen in spring 2010 Celebrating 50 Years of Dolphin Care

Carefully tended to by a team of animal care professionals, Brookfield Zoo’s three dolphins—Tapeko, 27; Noelani, 5; and Allison, 3—traveled `aboard a FedEx airplane Sunday night to Minneapolis International Airport. The dolphins begin a temporary stay at Minnesota Zoo while their Brookfield home—Seven Seas dolphin arena—undergoes extensive renovations and upgrades before their return next spring.

“The move went just as planned. It was a comfortable experience for the dolphins because they were with people they know,” said Kim Smith, vice president of animal care for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “We already miss them, but they will be returning to an improved facility that contributes to their high-quality of life here at the zoo.”

Chicago Zoological Society’s animal care staff began planning for the move last year. During the last three months trainers worked with the dolphins to help prepare them for the journey. FedEx generously donated the flight that carried the dolphins and several CZS staff members, including the curator of marine mammals, a veterinarian, and two trainers to Minnesota. Six CZS trainers will be staying with the dolphins in Apple Valley to assist in their care and provide continuity in their training. “The dolphins have a close bond with their trainers and are comforted by them even when their surroundings are different,” Smith said.

Initially the dolphins will be kept separated from the dolphins already living at Minnesota Zoo: three females—April 42; Allie, 22; Spree, 7—and one male—Semo, 45. April and Allie are owned by the CZS and are on loan to Minnesota Zoo. Located in Apple Valley, a southern suburb of the Twin Cities, Minnesota Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums and participates with CZS in the Bottlenose Dolphin Breeding Consortium.

While the dolphins are away, CZS will do a total makeover to the 20-year-old Seven Seas dolphin arena. Work will include upgrades to the water filtration system; new liners on the pool that features the main pool, two holding pools, and a medical pool; installation of a new HVAC system; roof repairs; and an increase of space on the center deck to allow for animal care needs.

When the dolphins return to Brookfield, Seven Seas will reopen with a celebration that marks 50 years of dolphin care and residency at the zoo.
 
“Chicago Zoological Society is a leader in dolphin care and research, which includes our support of the longest-running wild dolphin study in the world that is nearing on 40 years. It’s a privilege to share what we know about these wonderful marine mammals with our guests and with researchers around the world,” said Stuart D. Strahl, Ph.D., president and CEO of Chicago Zoological Society.

While the dolphins are in Minnesota, CZS dolphin fans can check-in on how they are doing by visiting www.CZS.org/dolphins for updates.