From Kerry Martens, Dolphin Trainer
We recently transported Chinook, the adult male dolphin that has been at the National Aquarium on breeding loan for the past three years, to the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois.
Chinook was loaded into a specially made transport carrier and taken by truck to the airport. He was flown to Chicago with an Aquarium vet and trainer by his side. Upon arrival at Brookfield, he looked great and began to eat fish right away. We heard that he is already showing interest in the female dolphins at Brookfield Zoo!
As part of a dolphin breeding consortium, we work with seven other zoos/aquariums to cooperatively manage and breed our dolphins. Male dolphins are commonly moved from place to place to breed with different female groups. This type of movement – male dolphins moving between groups of females for breeding – is also seen in dolphins in the wild.
While we are excited for Chinook to go on and become a father once more (2-year-old Bayley is his daughter), he will certainly be missed by the National Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Staff. His attempts to gain the attention of our female dolphins were occasionally comical, spinning in front of them in the middle of the pool or making unique vocalizations, and his overall laid-back demeanor made him a pleasure to work with.
We’ll miss you, Chinook!
A few weeks ago we took you into the world of Nani, our oldest dolphin. This week we’d like to take you into the world of one of our younger dolphins, Maya!
Maya is known as the “princess” of the pool. She is a girly-girl and loves shiny objects. She is just 8 years old, but one of the stars of the new dolphin show, Our Ocean Planet. She has incredible athletic ability, which she loves to show off during shows. You may catch a glimpse of her abilities on TV in one of the Aquarium’s new commericials:
Maya was born at the National Aquarium in 2001 and is the daughter of Shiloh, who also lives at the Aquarium. Weighing 380 pounds, she eats about 21 pounds of fish a day! When she is not performing, Maya is typically playing with Spirit, another 8 year old dolphin, and looking for attention from the trainers.
You can catch Maya in action during Our Ocean Planet, shows now running daily at the Aquarium. Join us for the grand opening April 4 & 5 and enjoy special dolphin activities and giveaways!
The National Aquarium is home to a dynamic group of 10 healthy Atlantic bottlenose dolphins ranging from six months to 37 years. If you follow our blog, you know that the trainers and dolphins are currently preparing for the opening of our new dolphin show, that will explore the power, beauty, and grace of a dolphin’s world. Let’s a take a closer look into the world of Nani.
Nani is 37 years old, making her the oldest dolphin at the National Aquarium, and the most dominant. She came to the National Aquarium in 1990, when the Lyn P. Meyerhoff Amphitheater opened to the public. Nani has given birth to six calves in her lifetime. Two of her calves live at the Aquarium, Spirit and Beau, and she is very protective of the both of them.
Nani, meaning “beautiful” in Hawaiian, weighs approximately 500 pounds and is also the largest dolphin of the group. She currently eats about 25 pounds of fish a day! And with the trainers she is like a big huggable teddy bear in the water.
You can see Nani perform in our new dolphin show, Our Ocean Planet. We invite you to join us on March 28 or 29 for a special preview of the new show. Visitors to the Aquarium on those days will have an opportunity to register on-site to win a Dolphin Encounter, for the chance to get up-close and personal our dolphins! We hope to see you there!
The marine mammal trainers were excited to welcome world figure skating champion, Kimmie Meissner, to the Aquarium yesterday! A Maryland native and a huge fan of the Aquarium, Kimmie volunteered her time to be a part of the new dolphin show video. Yesterday she spent time learning what it takes to become a dolphin trainer, and got up close and personal with some of the Aquarium’s dolphins.
As a child Kimmie loved visiting the Aquarium and she still has a strong love for animals. At one point she thought about becoming a marine biologist, but has decided to major in exercise science at the University of Delaware.
She is very excited about the new show and the message it sends to young people who are fascinated by dolphins!