CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's a bittersweet week for the staff at the Texas State Aquarium, as they welcomed in an 8-year-old bottlenose dolphin named Merlin, while saying goodbye to their 27-year old bottlenose dolphin and long-time resident, Kai.
Kai called the Texas State Aqarium in Corpus Christi his home for 16 years. He was born at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Illinois in October of 1994, and lived there for 12 years before moving to TSA in 2006. Kai has now returned back home to Brookfield Zoo, where he rejoins several resident dolphins that he may remember from his time in Chicago.
“It is common for AZA partner facilities to relocate dolphins based on the changing needs of individual animals, and we agree that this decision will be the best for Kai,” said Emma Gilbert in a release, director of animal care at the Texas State Aquarium.
Merlin has now joined the pod with TSA dolphins Shadow, Liko, and Schooner. He will be paired with Schooner, who is a few years older than him, to help him acclimate into his new environment.
Rita Stacey, vice president of animal programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, said young male dolphins usually leave their maternal group to spend more time with other animals their age, so pairing Merlin with Schooner will be a healthy milestone for him.
Visitors of the aquarium will get to see Merlin at Dolphin Bay once he has acclimated to his new home.
Both Merlin and Kai have been closely monitored by the staff at the Brookfield Zoo and the Texas State Aquarium since before their journeys across the country, and they will continue to be monitored until they have shown they have fully acclimated to their new homes.