News Release

October 30, 2011

Contact : Sondra Katzen
Public Relations

Newborn Dolphin Calf Dies within Minutes of Birth at Brookfield Zoo

     Brookfield, Ill.—The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is sad to announce that a bottlenose dolphin calf died within moments of his birth. Tapeko, the zoo's 29-year-old bottlenose dolphin and an experienced mother, gave birth to a male calf at 6:51 this morning following approximately three hours of labor.

"Our experienced marine mammal staff is just devastated as they share a close bond with the animals in their care. Our primary concern now is the well-being of Tapeko, who is being closely monitored," said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal collection and care for the Society. "I am very proud of the staff and share in their grief at this terrible loss."

Two days ago, when Tapeko began showing signs that she was close to going into labor, marine mammal staff began 24-hour observations. At 4:00 a.m. this morning, Tapeko started into full labor. Immediately after birth, the calf showed little movement and signs of weakness.

"Normally a newborn calf would need very little assistance from its mother to swim to the surface to take its first breath," said Mike Adkesson, DVM, DACZM, associate veterinarian for CZS. "However, Tapeko had to push her calf to the surface and he was unsuccessful in taking a breath." Staff attempted to intervene, but the calf showed no sign of life.

The veterinary staff closely monitored Tapeko throughout her pregnancy, which progressed normally. As an experienced mother, Tapeko has raised three previous calves. A necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed today, although the cause of death may never be fully known.

Dolphin presentations have been canceled today, October 30, and the underwater viewing gallery will remain closed as well.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. Open every day of the year, Brookfield 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.

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