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Nea, a 4-year-old bottlenose, died shortly before her 1 p.m. appearance Monday in what officials said was a "freak accident."
A special announcement was made Tuesday prior to the 11:30 a.m. dolphin show at the Brookfield Zoo to mark the death of the show's youngest performer a day earlier.
Nea, a 4-year-old bottlenose, died shortly before her 1 p.m. appearance Monday in what officials said was a "freak accident." She collided with another dolphin in a tank, fracturing her skull, officials said.
"Our staff is very grieved," said Bill Zeigler, the Senior Vice President of Collections and Animal Care told audience members. "The dolphins really love the interaction with the staff."
"In a way of keeping normalcy in their lives... we decided to go ahead and do the demonstration today," he told the crowd before the performance.
Even with Nea missing, the zoo's six remaining dolphins didn't seem to miss a beat, performing a variety of tricks, stunts and jumps.
"I thought it was a nice show," remarked Helen Born of Western Springs, who said she's been attending dolphin shows at Brookfield ever since they began about 50 years ago.
Over the next few days, staff will be giving the dolphins plenty of TLC to ensure nothing goes awry with the animals.
"There will be a lot of special attention paid to the dolphins," said Rita Stacey, Curator of Marine Mammals.