News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
December 18, 2020

Photos (credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
0993: Magic, a bottlenose dolphin
2961: Magic, a bottlenose dolphin

Chicago Zoological Society Mourns Loss of Bottlenose Dolphin

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) is saddened to announce the death of Magic, a bottlenose dolphin at Brookfield Zoo on December 16. The 7-year-old dolphin succumbed to acute respiratory failure and despite immediate intervention, veterinarians were unable to save him. Preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy) findings confirmed that an illness had rapidly affected Magic’s lungs.  Additional diagnostic testing for specific infectious diseases is underway. The result from a COVID-19 test was negative.
“We are all just devasted 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.
In May 2018, Magic was diagnosed with pulmonary mucormycosis, a very serious illness affecting his lungs and airways. 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. Effective treatment of the disease can be very difficult. Due to the close and trusting relationship animal care staff fostered with Magic from his birth, he voluntarily participated in treatments that included oral and inhaled antifungal medications and ultrasound examinations. Over the past year, there was dramatic regression of the disease, and Magic was in great health until he deteriorated acutely on December 16.
Magic was born at Brookfield Zoo in October 2013 to a first-time mother who did not provide him with adequate maternal care. Staff immediately intervened and hand-reared Magic, saving a calf that would not have survived in the wild and providing him with seven years of quality of life. This tremendous undertaking was the first time a zoo successfully hand-reared a dolphin. During his first eight months of life, the marine mammal staff provided Magic with around-the-clock care.
The zoo’s other six dolphins are in good health and doing well, engaging in their normal interactions with one another and the marine mammal staff.
“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,” added Zeigler. “Magic’s death has been very difficult for all of the Chicago Zoological Society family and he will be greatly missed.”

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities 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. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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