Saturday, January 19, 2008

Brookfield's zoo loses dolphin!

Micco, a 6-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at Brookfield Zoo, died Sunday, apparently of complications from a respiratory infection, officials said.Animal-care staff first became concerned about Micco in December, when he stopped eating normally, officials said.He was put on a regimen of antibiotics and other medicine as a precaution.

Although that seemed to improve his appetite for a while, Micco took a turn for the worse this weekend and died as trainers and animal-care staff examined him to determine the cause of his illness. Trainers administered CPR and heart stimulants but could not revive the dolphin."It's a very tragic loss for everyone at the zoo," said Kim Smith, vice president of animal care. "They went to great measures to treat and save this animal."

Staff members still are working to find the cause of Micco's illness. Initial postmortem reports indicate a severe infection in his trachea. According to experts, respiratory ailments are the No. 1 cause of death in dolphins, both in captivity and in the wild.Smith said the cause likely was something environmental that may not have affected a mature dolphin so severely."We suspect that it was a fungus," Smith said.

"While the rest of the population would not be susceptible to that ... juvenile male dolphins are particularly susceptible."Micco was relatively young, Smith said, adding that an average Atlantic bottlenose dolphin can live into its 30s.Micco was one of Brookfield's eight dolphins, a group that includes Micco's mother, Kaylee, 14, and grandmother, Tapeko, 25.The other dolphins are being monitored in the wake of Micco's death, Smith said, because dolphins are very social animals and may be affected by his absence.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"