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Dolphin calf dies shortly after his birth at Brookfield Zoo

Tapeko one Brookfield Zoo dolphins gave birth male calf Sunday morning but calf died just after birth according Chicago Zoological

Tapeko,, one of the Brookfield Zoo dolphins, gave birth to a male calf Sunday morning, but the calf died just after birth, according to the Chicago Zoological Society. Photo by Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

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Updated: January 23, 2012 4:10AM

A bottlenose dolphin calf died just after he was born Sunday morning at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society officials said.

Tapeko, the zoo’s 29-year-old bottlenose dolphin gave birth to a male calf at 6:51 a.m. after about three hours of labor.

Two days ago, when Tapeko began showing signs that she was close to going into labor, marine mammal staff began 24-hour observations, according to the zoo. Immediately after 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 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 attempted to intervene, but the calf showed no sign of life.

The veterinary staff closely monitored Tapeko throughout her pregnancy, which progressed normally. The newborn weighed slightly more than 40 pounds after a full-term pregnancy, which is normal, said zoo spokeswoman Sondra Katzen.

As an experienced mother, Tapeko has raised three previous calves. A necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed Sunday, although the cause of death may never be fully known, the zoo said.

Dolphin presentations have been canceled Sunday, and the underwater viewing gallery will remain closed as well. The reopening date is expected to be posted on the zoo’s website ( on Monday.

“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 society.

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