Dolphins settle in at new homes far apart

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 4, 2012 - 9:20 PM

Minnesota Zoo had to close exhibit to make repairs.

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Semo, at his new home in California

Photo: Provided by the Minnesota Zoo,

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Bottlenose dolphins Semo and Allie have relocated from the Minnesota Zoo to their new homes 2,000 miles apart, officials said Thursday.

The zoo had to move the mammals -- they made their final Minnesota appearance last month before jetting off on private charter flights -- to allow for major repairs to the Apple Valley zoo's 15-year-old Discovery Bay building after years of salt-water damage. That work leaves the Minnesota Zoo with no dolphins in residence.

Semo, at 48 the oldest male bottlenose dolphin in human care, now resides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, northeast of San Francisco. Allie, 25, is at Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago.

"We will miss Allie and Semo, but are excited to see them begin their new journeys," Minnesota Zoo marine mammal supervisor Diane Fusco said. "They are being provided with opportunities to develop new social relationships with other dolphins, and we know they'll be kept busy."

Semo was accompanied by trainers and a veterinarian during his trip to California. He will be monitored over the next 24 to 48 hours and introduced to four other female dolphins for, uh, you know, dating possibilities.

Allie is owned by the Chicago Zoological Society and had been on a breeding loan at the Minnesota Zoo since 2008. She has lived at Brookfield Zoo and is familiar with several of the other dolphins. Allie is off exhibit until she grows accustomed to her home and trainers.

Semo and Allie did not go to the same new home because "they were not a bonded pair," said Minnesota Zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard. "They were not the best of friends."

Allie was accompanied by members of the Chicago Zoo staff and a Minnesota Zoo veterinarian on her trip to Illinois.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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