The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is happy to announce the birth of a male dolphin calf born on Wednesday, October 16. The calf, born to Tapeko, 31, is approximately 40 pounds and 3.5 feet long. Please note that Brookfield Zoo's Dolphin Presentations have been temporarily canceled to allow Tapeko and her calf time to bond and get acquainted with the other dolphins in the group. Although the calf and his mom are currently off exhibit, the Seven Seas underwater viewing gallery will remain open.
Following the birth, it is important for the calf to demonstrate several key milestones, including nursing and slipstreaming, which is when the calf rests in his mom’s “slipstream”. This hydrodynamic wake is made by the mother as she swims using her own energy to help glide the calf. Marine mammal and veterinary staff have observed the new calf displaying these behaviors and are encouraged by what they have seen so far, however they remain cautiously optimistic.
“We know that the first 30 days are extremely critical in the calf’s life,” said Rita Stacey, marine mammal curator for the Chicago Zoological Society. This time frame accounts for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations both in the wild and under professional care as compared to any other demographic age group. In addition to the first 30 days being crucial to a calf’s survival, the first year is also filled with challenges and milestones the calf must reach.
Tapeko is an experienced mother having successfully reared four calves, one of which was her grandson as well as daughters Allison 7, and Noelani, 9, who are both members of the dolphin group at Brookfield Zoo.
“This is an important time for our breeding group of females,” added Stacey. “As an experienced mom, Tapeko is able to demonstrate to the younger females how to care for a newborn calf.” This is especially timely as Spree, 11, is expected to give birth to her first calf later this fall. Other members of the dolphin group are Chinook, 30, sire of the new calf, and Allie, 26.