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BROOKFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – A newborn dolphin died within moments of his birth at Brookfield Zoo early Sunday morning.
“Our experienced marine mammal staff is just devastated as they share a close bond with the animals in their care. Our primary concern now is the well-being of Tapeko, who is being closely monitored,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal collection and care for the Chicago Zoological Society, which runs the zoo. “I am very proud of the staff and share in their grief at this terrible loss.”
Tapeko, the zoo’s 29-year-old bottlenose dolphin, gave birth to a male calf shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday, following three hours of labor, according to a statement from the Chicago Zoological Society, which runs the zoo.
Moments later, the calf died.
Tapeko began showing signs that she was close to going into labor two days ago, so zoo staff began 24-hour observations.
Around 4 a.m. Sunday, she went into full labor and, immediately after the birth, the calf showed little movement and signs of weakness.
“Normally a newborn calf would need very little assistance from its mother to swim to the surface to take its first breath,” said Dr. Mike Adkesson, associate veterinarian for the zoo. “However, Tapeko had to push her calf to the surface and he was unsuccessful in taking a breath.”
Staff tried to help, but the calf showed no sign of life.
Tapeko has raised three other calves.
Dolphin presentations at the zoo were canceled for Sunday and the underwater viewing gallery was closed.