News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
May 23, 2019 
Brookfield Zoo Hosting Documentary Screening and Expert Panel Discussion
on Impact to Marine Life after Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Brookfield, Ill. —Deepwater Horizon was the largest offshore oil spill in the history of the United States. It also sparked the largest coordinated oceanic research effort to understand and mitigate the impacts of petroleum pollution. Learn about these efforts and findings at a special screening of the documentary “Dispatches from the Gulf 2” at Brookfield Zoo on Tuesday, June 18, at 7:00 p.m. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with leading marine mammal experts who will share their personal experiences working with bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The one-hour documentary, narrated by Matt Damon, takes viewers on a roller-coaster journey through the Gulf of Mexico on research vessels navigating rough seas and inside CSI-type laboratories in Europe and the United States. It features how science can help remedy even the most disastrous failures as well as the never-before-documented drama of bottlenose dolphins struggling to survive and the capture of one of the world’s largest predatory sharks.

Following the showing of the documentary, Randall Wells, Ph.D., vice president of marine mammal conservation and director of the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program for the Chicago Zoological Society will moderate the panel discussion. The program is the world’s longest-running study of a wild dolphin population. Long-term research on health, ecology, behavior, life history, and human interactions has established the resident Sarasota Bay bottlenose dolphins as a reference population. Sarasota Bay also serves as a site for developing, testing, and/or refining research approaches and methodologies, including capture-release health assessments and telemetry for small cetaceans. Dr. Wells has been senior or co-author on more than 250 peer-reviewed marine mammal publications, including four books.

Other members of the panel include:

  • Cynthia Smith, DVM, is executive director for the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and an established marine mammal clinician and clinical research scientist with more than 100 publications on topics such as dolphin pulmonary, reproductive, renal, infectious, and metabolic diseases. She was the lead veterinarian on the marine mammal injury assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

  • Kathleen Colegrove, DVM, PhD, Dip ACVP, is an associate professor at the Zoological Pathology Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, housed at Brookfield Zoo. Dr. Colegrove was lead pathologist for the 2010-2014 Northern Gulf of Mexico Unusual Mortality Event and for marine mammal injury assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill conducting histopathologic assessment on hundreds of cetaceans that died following the disaster.

  • Lori Schwacke, PhD, is chief scientist for the National Marine Mammal Foundation’s Conservation Medicine Division and the director of the Consortium for Advanced Research on Marine Mammal Health Assessments. Dr. Schwacke co-led multiple collaborative field projects to assess effects of the oil spill on nearshore bottlenose dolphins as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. In addition, she led the team of statisticians and mathematicians that developed models to predict the long-term impacts of the spill on Gulf of Mexico marine mammal populations.

  • Teresa Rowles, PhD, directs NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program that coordinates the national stranding and entanglement response network for cetaceans and pinnipeds in the U.S., the marine mammal health surveillance program, and investigations of unusual mortality events. The program involves multiple partners at both the national and international levels, which work together to identify causes of morbidity and mortality in marine mammal populations. These studies include evaluation of outbreaks, anthropogenic sound, chemical pollution, ship strikes, entanglement, marine debris, and natural events (i.e., extreme weather events).

  • Sylvain De Guise, DMV, PhD, is a professor of pathobiology and veterinary science at the University of Connecticut, where he leads an active research program in comparative immunology and immunotoxicology of aquatic species. Dr. De Guise has more than 30 years of experience in research with marine mammals, with more recent projects in oysters, lobsters, and fish. He also serves as director of the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program, where he oversees research, outreach, and education relevant to coastal and marine issues.

The cost for the evening screening of “Dispatches from the Gulf 2” and panel discussion is $16 (Brookfield Zoo members pay $12). Those planning to attend should enter the zoo via the south gate entrance at 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield. To register, go to For questions, please email
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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. Open every day of the year, 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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