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‘Difficult day’ at Brookfield Zoo after newborn dolphin calf dies

Allie 26-year-old bottlenose dolphher calf Brookfield Zoo. The calf female was born August 2. | Jim Schulz~Chicago Zoological Society

Allie, a 26-year-old bottlenose dolphin, and her calf at Brookfield Zoo. The calf, a female, was born on August 2. | Jim Schulz~Chicago Zoological Society

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Updated: August 9, 2013 4:50PM

A 1-week-old baby dolphin died Thursday morning at Brookfield Zoo.

Soon after the zoo on Wednesday announced her Aug. 2 birth, she began showing signs of weakening and died early Thursday, the zoo said in a news release.

Allie, the calf’s 26-year-old mother, who successfully raised two other calves, is doing fine, said Dr. Michael Adkesson, the Chicago Zoological Society’s vice president of clinical medicine, who was present for the calf’s birth.

“It’s obviously difficult for us to truly know what they feel or comprehend, but she’s in excellent health at the moment and is back with the other female dolphins,” Adkesson said.

The first 30 days of a calf’s life are the most critical because there’s so much for them to learn, Adkesson said. The calf was monitored by zoo staff around the clock.

Studies on dolphins show that the deaths of calves in the first month account for the largest rate of loss of life to dolphin populations — in the wild and captivity.

“This was devastating to everyone in our zoo family, but particularly to the dolphin staff,” Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of collections and animal care for the Chicago Zoological Society, said in the release.

Underwater viewing of the dolphins will open up to the public again Saturday, Adkesson said.

A necropsy to determine the calf’s cause of death is pending, the release said.

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