Far From Home (For Now!) Brookfield Zoo Dolphins to live at the Minnesota Zoo
While the Seven Seas habitat undergoes renovations, Brookfield Zoo’s dolphin pod will make Minnesota Zoo their temporary home.
On November 4th, 2022, The Brookfield Zoo announced their seven bottlenose dolphins to the Minnesota Zoo. They were accompanied by a team of veterinarians, animal care specialists, and support staff to help ensure their arrival at their temporary home went smoothly as possible. For five of the animals, the move to Minnesota marks a return to their home since the zoo stopped housing dolphins full-time in 2012. Allie originally came to the zoo in 2008 while Spree was born there in 2002. Brookfield’s other three females, Tapeko, Noelani, and Allison, all spent some time in Minnesota in 2009 during a previous renovation of their habitat. For the two males, Lucky and Kai, this will make the first time they ever lived in Minnesota.
When the Minnesota Zoo stopped housing dolphins full-time in 2012, the remaining dolphins under their care at the time were moved and integrated into larger pods at other facilities. This move was done for the well-being of the dolphins because they’re required to be in social groups. This decision was determined by the Dolphin Consortium, a partnership between accredited dolphin facilities that makes recommendations on the care, placement, and genetic diversity of dolphins in human care because of the zoo not being able to provide a social configuration for their dolphins.
Since then, the zoo invested in housing endangered Hawaiian monk seals and educating the public on their plight to combat extinction out in the wild. In 2015, The Minnesota Zoo adopted five, rescued, but non-releasable elderly Hawaiian monk seals. These endangered mammals joined the zoo to become ambassadors to their wild counterparts, making it the only zoological facility within the continental United States to house them. Currently, the zoo only houses one elderly seal named Ola. As a solitary mammal, the aging seal continues to receive the specialized care and enrichment she needs to help her enjoy her golden years.
This new, temporary housing arrangement for the dolphins will not only provide the people of Minnesota a second chance to have another unique opportunity to know and care about bottlenose dolphins but also, learn about conserving our oceans. Once the dolphin pod gets fully acclimated to their new foster home, they will be visible at the zoo’s Discovery Bay Habitat, which has undergone several updates to allow the specialists to provide dual care for both Ola and the dolphins. Ola will have sole access to the pool at various times.
Why’s Brookfield Renovating Its Dolphin Habitat?
According to a press release by the Chicago Zoological Society, the Seven Seas Habitat is undergoing a series of updates and repairs. These renovations include the installation of a lift platform in the “south” section of the habitat that allows the water depth to adjust quickly in the event of advanced medical care. Additional improvements include a new roof and a complete climate-controlled air purifying system for the entire building that would make it a better environment for both people and animals alike year-round.
What about the trainers? Will they still get to be with their animals?
While specialists will remain in Chicago caring for the zoo’s sea lions and grey seals, several animal care staff will spend time with the dolphins in Minnesota to provide daily care to them and engage with them in the same way they did back home in Illinois. The zoo plans to keep the fans updated on the animals through social media.
When will the dolphins go on display in Minnesota?
This winter, once the dolphins finish the quarantine process, Discovery Bay will begin holding “Dolphins in Action” presentations for guests. This will also mark the time when the dolphins go on public display and guests can view them at the habitat.
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