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Brookfield Zoo welcomes new dolphin calf

Published: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 5:21 p.m. CDT

BROOKFIELD – The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the Brookfield Zoo, was pleased to announce the birth of a dolphin calf at the zoo Oct. 16

The male calf, born to Tapeko, a 31-year-old bottlenose dolphin, weighs approximately 40 pounds and is 3.5-feet-long.

The zoo temporarily canceled the popular dolphin presentations to allow mother and son time to bond and get to know the other dolphins in the exhibit.

Zoo officials said they were cautiously optimistic after the birth. Following a birth, it is important for the calf to demonstrate several key milestones, including nursing and slipstreaming, where the calf will rest in mom's slipstream – a hydrodynamic wake made by the mother as she swims and uses her energy to guide the calf.

Birth follows sudden death of calf born in August

In August, a newly born dolphin calf died suddenly at the zoo.

"We know the first 30 days are extremely critical in the calf's life," said Rita Stacey, marine mammal curator for the zoo.

The first 30 days account for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations in both the wild and under professional care, the zoo reported in a news release.

Zoo officials said that Tapeko is an experience mother, having successfully raised four calves.

Officials called the birth an important moment for the zoo's dolphins.

"As an experienced mom, Tapeko is able to demonstrate to the younger females how to care for a newborn calf," Stacey said.

Spree, an 11-year-old dolphin, is also expected to give birth later this fall at the Brookfield Zoo.

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