Earlier this month, on June 2nd, at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, Maxine, a bottlenose dolphin, died of what the zoo has called an acute bacterial infection that “quickly caused organ failure.”
Maxine was three years old.
“Maxine’s death has been devastating to all of the Chicago Zoological Society family and she will be greatly missed,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs.
But however “devastating” the loss of Maxine may have been to her zoo “family,” it is likely nothing compared to the grief being experienced by her mother, 32-year-old Allie. Whales and dolphins, like elephants, are known for their behavior in response to the loss of one of their own. Only last week, a new paper was published that explores the evidence for grief and “postmortem attentive behavior” among various species of cetaceans.
For her zoo “family,” meanwhile, Maxine’s death must also have been something of an embarrassment since this was just the latest in a string of young dolphin deaths at the zoo. In 2014, two dolphin calves died at the zoo, and three years earlier a four-year-old died after apparently colliding with another dolphin in their concrete tank and suffering a fractured skull.
Photo copyright Chicago Zoological Society.