Brookfield Zoo officials have suspended the dolphin show indefinitely after deciding to euthanize a 15-year-old bottlenose dolphin on April 3.
Zoo staff decided to euthanize Kaylee the dolphin after determining a tear in her stomach would put her quality of life at risk. Kim Smith, Chicago Zoological Society vice president of animal care, said the tear occurs with animals that have chronic medical conditions, like Kaylee.
The only real potential treatment option would have been surgery, according to Smith.
“We were going to try it, but this morning we came in and she was weaker,” Smith said. “We decided in the best interest for Kaylee.”
Kaylee starting not feeling well in early March, according to Sondra Katzen, zoo spokeswoman.
During the last few weeks, veterinarian and mammal staff have been monitoring and treating Kaylee for behavioral changes and loss of appetite. A fungal infection was diagnosed and treated successfully, according to Katzen.
Tests were repeated April 1 when Kaylee showed little enthusiasm to eat and the medical team found fluid in her abdomen from the stomach tear.
Staff allowed the dolphin family to come over to one of the gates, which separated them from Kaylee, so they could see her after she was euthanized, according to Katzen.
“We let them say goodbye and let them know what happened,” Smith said. “You could tell they were working it out. These are very intelligent animals. We thought it was critical to let them know.”
Kaylee was born at Brookfield Zoo in 1993. In 2006, she survived a life-threatening abscess in her lung, which caused her to be vulnerable to recurring illness, according to Smith.
Kaylee was one of four dolphins at the zoo, which were all related. Patrons can still view the dolphins from the exhibit’s underwater viewing area.
Kaylee was the second animal euthanized at Brookfield Zoo recently. Alpha, a 48-year-old female gorilla and one of the oldest female gorillas in the North American zoo population, was suffering from kidney failure because of her age. After continued medical treatment, zoo medical staff determined her condition was not improving and decided to euthanize Alpha March 27, Katzen said.
Brookfield Suburban Life