News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 24, 2021
 NOTE: Scroll down to end of press release to download images of Lucky.

47-Year-Old Dolphin Back Home at Brookfield Zoo for Cancer Treatment

Brookfield, Ill. — The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo, has welcomed back home Lucky, a male bottlenose dolphin who previously resided at the zoo’s Seven Seas. However, his homecoming is bittersweet—Lucky was recently diagnosed with an oral tumor.

The 47-year-old marine mammal was diagnosed in June by veterinarians at an accredited facility, where he has lived since leaving Brookfield Zoo in 2008. With test results confirming that Lucky is in otherwise great health for his age, CZS veterinary and animal care staff began making plans to bring him back to the zoo for further diagnostics and treatment.

Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine, and two marine mammal care specialists from Brookfield Zoo, made the trip to observe and spend time with Lucky prior to the flight to Illinois. And, this past week, the staff accompanied Lucky when he was flown to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport thanks to the generosity of FedEx.

The tumor, which was evaluated by pathologists from the University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program is a squamous cell carcinoma—a cancer that has been seen in dolphins in the wild and under human care.

“Brookfield Zoo is one of less than a dozen zoos and aquariums with a CT scanner on site. Having this diagnostic capability here at the zoo’s Animal Hospital allows us to continue to closely monitor Lucky’s condition and response to treatment,” said Adkesson. “In the weeks ahead, our team will be working with veterinary oncologists and surgeons to develop a treatment plan for Lucky. We are hopeful and optimistic that we can treat his condition and provide him more healthy years ahead.”

For now, Lucky remains out of public view as he receives medical care and observation, and will remain at Brookfield Zoo during and after his treatment.

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Photo Captions—credit: Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo
7914: Lucky, a 47-year-old bottlenose dolphin at Brookfield Zoo has been at another accredited facility since 2008. He returned to the zoo to undergo treatment for an oral tumor that was diagnosed during a CT scan.
9981: Lucky, a 47-year-old male bottlenose dolphin at Brookfield Zoo, during a training session with Beth Miller, a senior animal care specialist for the Chicago Zoological Society.

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, and 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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