Inside the Seven Seas exhibit, new life is bringing joy to the tropics this holiday season. An 8-week-old dolphin calf is swimming alongside his mother, Tapeko, 31, while another baby boy is at a nearby nursery pool. That dolphin calf, born to Spree, is just six weeks old. He's in the 24 hour care of zoo staff.
"Spree, a first time mom, was not showing the appropriate maternal behavior needed for her calf to survive. So staff and veterinarians had to make the decision to intervene on the calf's behalf," Rita Stacey, curator of mammals, said.
Making baby dolphins is risky business. There's a high mortality rate in the wild and in captivity. These two successful births are extremely good news.
"We're really encouraged that both of the dolphins are gaining weight and they're both growing in length and width," Dr. Jennifer Langan, associate vet, Brookfield Zoo, said.
To make life more natural for the little guy being raised by hand, they have recorded dolphin squeaks and whistles and play them on a floating speaker.
"To get him used to hearing the sounds of the dolphins that he's going to be encountering later in life," Mark Gonka, lead keeper, Brookfield Zoo, said.
For these two youngsters, everything is going great. They're growing and they're healthy. But this is just the beginning for these two future buddies.
"We're looking forward to the day when we can put the two little boys together and then have these two little boys grow up in the same group and then watch them play," Stacey said. Tapeko and her son are on exhibit now.