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Dolphin calf born at Brookfield Zoo

Published: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013 9:45 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Dolphin shows at Brookfield Zoo have been temporarily canceled to allow a male calf born Wednesday to bond with his mother.

The 40-pound calf was born to Tapeko and is about 3-1/2 feet long, according to a release from the zoo. Staff are "cautiously optimistic that the calf is healthy and doing well," zoo spokesman Jamie Hansen said in an email.

The calf is nursing and doing what's known as slipstreaming, resting in the mother dolphin's wake, important milestones in a young dolphin's development, according to the release.

Tapeko has raised four other calves, including two she gave birth to: Allison 7, and Noelani, 9, both at Brookfield. The calf and Tapeko are currently in an enclosure that is not open to public view.

"This is an important time for our breeding group of females," said Rita Stacey, marine mammal curator for the Chicago Zoological Society, which runs the zoo.

Dolphin presentations have been suspended for the time being while the baby bonds with Tapeko and familiarizes itself with the other dolphins at the zoo, according to the release.

Another dolphin at the zoo, Spree, 11, is expected to give birth later this fall. "As an experienced mom, Tapeko is able to demonstrate to the younger females how to care for a newborn calf," Stacey said in the release.

(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services

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