Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dolphin Calf born at Minnesota Zoo

It's a girl! (They think.)

The Minnesota Zoo's 23-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, Allie, gave birth to a healthy calf late Saturday night. Staff members think it's female but won't be sure until they can get a closer look.

The calf is welcome happy news for the Apple Valley zoo's dolphin program, which has suffered its share of heartbreak in the past few years. Allie's last pregnancy ended when she delivered a stillborn calf in March 2009. Three dolphins, including 7-month-old calf Harley, died in 2006.

The latest birth brings the dolphin pod back to four members. April, 42, is Allie's mother. Semo, 45, is the calf's father. He is believed to be one of the oldest reproducing male dolphins in human care. "It's very exciting for our dolphin program," marine mammal supervisor Diane Fusco said. "It's going to be fun to watch how the interactions develop. There's nothing like a young animal to stir things up."

Zoo staff noticed Allie was close to delivering on Friday after she refused food. The calf was born after about two hours of labor at 10:51 p.m. Saturday. The calf immediately swam to the surface for its first breath. Allie followed, and the baby has been swimming by her side ever since, Fusco said. "Allie and the calf are taking synchronized breaths and the calf is being maneuvered by Allie so it is not wandering away from her," she said. The baby, which has not yet been named, weighs about 30 pounds and is 2 to 3 feet long. It's Allie's second calf and Semo's fourth.

Allie and the calf are bonding nicely, Fusco said, and successful nursing took place within the first few hours. Exhausted but elated staff members will continue to monitor the pair around the clock for the next few weeks. Fusco, reached Sunday by phone, said she'd caught a quick nap in her car, but had been on duty since the birth. Semo has been separated from the other dolphins until maternal bonding can be established. "Male dolphins don't have any paternal investment in the calf," Fusco said. "If you put them together too early, he's more interested in the females. You might risk some trauma or aggression."

The calf is darker in color than Allie and has small whiskers on its nose that will soon disappear. Dolphin stadium was closed Sunday to allow the calf to be nurtured, but Fusco said it would reopen in the next few days. During that time, the mother/calf pair will remain in a back pool, but visitors might be able to catch a glimpse of the baby when it surfaces for a breath. If all goes well, the pair will be on exhibit in the fall.

source: http://www.twincities.com/ci_15548546?nclick_check=1

SeaWorld calls UCSD doctors to save sick dolphin

When the kidneys of a dolphin at SeaWorld began to fail, it almost certainly spelled death for the mammal. But now, Dottie the dolphin is still alive thanks to the park's veterinarians and two doctors from the UCSD Medical Center.

In January, one of SeaWorld's stars, Dottie the dolphin, stopped eating and refused to let the trainers, who love her the most, even touch her. "Worried. I was worried for her. You know she's an animal who has been pretty healthy her whole life," said Lauren Ford, SeaWorld's senior dolphin trainer. Ford knew her 23-year-old friend needed help.

Doctor Todd Schmitt, SeaWorld's senior veterinarian, immediately ordered a blood sample and because the lab work is done on site the shocking results were back an hour later. Dottie's blood was toxic. Her kidneys were not working. Dottie was dying. So Doctor Schmitt decided to reach out - from the world of animal medicine to the human world by calling Doctor David Ward from the UCSD Medical Center. Doctor Ward gave Dottie medicine to stabilize her blood.

Then, Doctor Ward suggested trying something that had never been done before - dolphin dialysis, which is a treatment that saved her life. "I think she was within hours of going out probably when we got to her," explained Doctor Ward. "Although Dottie's dialysis was working, it was not a long term fix so SeaWorld decided to bring her here into the operating room."

Dottie was diagnosed with a large kidney stone. The medical team then called Doctor Roger Sur and asked him operate on a dolphin. Although Doctor Sur has blasted more than a thousand kidney stones in humans, this was a 450 pound, unsedated dolphin and an operation that had to take place out of the water. During the procedure, Dottie's trainers stroked her and poured water on her to keep he calm.

"I just knew that the pressure was on because she was really sick, and I knew I had to get it done right the first time," said Doctor Sur. Snaking the scope through Dottie's urethra, Doctor Sur suddenly found the stone and attacked it with his laser, for what he calls one of the most rewarding procedures of his career. "I think my kids will remember that more than what I do everyday," he commented.

After months of recovery, Dottie is suddenly swimming circles around the younger dolphins, gobbling down fish and she's gained back close to 60 pounds. And, she is once again the talk of the tank. Dottie has other kidney stones and remains on medication. Her prognosis is good.

source: http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=12748974 (+ video)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's baby dolphins make their public debut

A bit camera shy and sticking close to their mothers, two baby dolphins gave Six Flags Discovery Kingdom visitors a peek of their sweet faces and graceful swoops through the water at their official public debut Thursday.

The two new Atlantic bottlenose dolphin calves were born in May and June, respectively, but park officials kept quiet about their births until they got a little older, Discovery Kingdom Animal Ambassador Lee Munro said.

"The first month or so (after birth) is crucial so we let them be by themselves," Munro said. "Now people can get up close and see them."

Both babies are males and a contest is under way to give members of the public a chance to submit suggested names for the dolphins. Since the contest is sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, submitted names must be Hawaiian.

The first male was born May 23 to its 23-year-old mother, Jasmine.

Meanwhile, 30-year-old Chelsea gave birth to the other male June 7.

The mothers were artificially inseminated via a male dolphin who lives at the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, Fla., Marine Mammal Manager Kim Lara said.

The two mothers and two calves share a large blue tank with a third adult female -- Aunt Sadie, who is a companion to them all, Lara said. The babies now weigh about 70 pounds and are still nursing, Lara said. They closely follow their mothers and have begun to play with one another, she said. At birth, they are about a third of the length of their mothers and weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, according to a park announcement.

After the calves begin to eat fish, Discovery Kingdom staff and trainers can train them to perform, and to take medications and participate in other medical procedures to keep them healthy, Lara said. Some dolphins stop nursing when they are several months old while others nurse much longer, she said.

With the addition of the two new calves, the park's dolphin population has grown to 15. Dolphin residents include Terry, who at age 50 is one of the oldest Atlantic bottlenose dolphins found in any Northern American facility, the park announcement indicated. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins can do well in zoos and parks as they tend to prefer shallow coastal waters, Lara said.

Those who would like to participate in the naming contest can get instructions at sixflags .com/discoverykingdom, or via the park's Facebook page. The names can be a word, phrase or name from the Hawaiian language, or related to Hawaii in some other way. Winning names will be announced on or about July 30.
Final winners will receive two plane tickets to Hawaii, four 2010 admission tickets to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and a dolphin plush toy.

source: http://www.thereporter.com/news/ci_15427242