Press release from Minnesota Zoo:
Special Delivery! Dolphin Calf Born at the Minnesota Zoo
Apple Valley, MINN – July 18, 2010: The wait is over! After about two hours of labor and twelve months of pregnancy, “Allie,” one of three Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the Minnesota Zoo, gave birth to a calf on Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 10:51 p.m.
The newborn calf, weighing approximately 30 pounds and measuring 2-3 feet long, is the second born to Allie, 23. This is father “Semo’s” fourth calf. The sex of the calf has yet to be determined.
“Allie has great maternal skills,” said Marine Mammal Supervisor Diane Fusco. “As mother and calf bonding is critical, Allie followed her calf right up to the water’s surface and the calf has been swimming along side her since. Allie and the calf are taking synchronized breaths and the calf is being maneuvered by Allie so it is not wandering away from her. We’ll continue 24-hour observations for the next several weeks to monitor the calf’s progress.”
Male dolphins play no role in the rearing of their calves, and because the father could become aggressive toward the mother and/or calf or possibly interfere with the mother/calf bonding process, Semo will be introduced to the calf once the calf is strong and well-bonded with Allie. Semo, 45, is believed to be one of the oldest reproducing male dolphins in human care.
Marine mammal staff noticed that Allie was close to delivering the afternoon of Friday, July 16 after she refused food. When the calf was born the following evening, it immediately swam to the surface of the pool to take his/her first breath. “The birth was normal, and Allie and the calf appear healthy at this time,” said Minnesota Zoo Senior Veterinarian Jim Rasmussen. “We are encouraged by the calf’s appearance and we are cautiously optimistic about its progress as these first few weeks are precarious for the calf.”
The calf is darker in color than Allie and has small whiskers on its rostrum (nose) that will soon disappear.
Trainers suspected Allie was pregnant last year when they observed breeding behaviors and noticed her elevated progesterone levels during a series of routine medical examinations. An ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy. To prepare for a healthy calf, marine mammal staff continually monitored Allie’s health by collecting blood and conducting ultrasound examinations. They monitored her appetite and behavior, while conditioning her to spend time in the maternity pool which was used for the birth.
In addition to Semo and Allie, the Minnesota Zoo houses Allie’s mom “April,” 42.
Dolphin Stadium will be closed today, July 18, 2010, for Allie and the calf to bond and be nurtured. If all goes well, the calf is expected to go on exhibit in the fall.
The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).