The Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas, announced that the male bottlenose dolphin calf rescued in June 2021 has found his forever home at a nonprofit research and education facility. The National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) determined the Dolphin Research Center (DRC) is the best fit for the rescue dolphin.
The dolphin calf, who his trainers dubbed ‘Goose,’ was rescued by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network and has now been fully rehabilitated by the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center. In homage to his Texas heritage, the DRC renamed him ‘Ranger.’
Rescue efforts at the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center were labor-intensive. When the dolphin first arrived, he immediately received a physical examination to determine his condition. Initial diagnostic tests showed evidence of an underlying respiratory infection and dehydration. Thankfully, the dolphin quickly recovered, and Rescue staff continued with his husbandry. The Aquarium’s rescue, veterinary, and animal care teams worked around the clock for the past nine months to provide the best care possible for Ranger in hopes that he could eventually return to the wild.
On 13 September 2021, the NMFS deemed Ranger non-releasable due to his young age and began looking for the calf’s forever home. After this decision was made, the Aquarium's animal care team began training and conditioning Ranger for life at a zoo or aquarium setting.
The Dolphin Research Center is a nonprofit corporation located in Grassy Key, Fla., that houses dolphins, sea lions, various birds, and more. The DRC is accredited by several organizations, such as the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) and the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA). The Aquarium staff is confident that Ranger will be in good hands and that this facility will provide him with exceptional care because of their experience with rescued marine mammals.
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"We are excited to welcome Ranger into our family. The Texas State Aquarium has done a fantastic job of restoring this youngster to health, and Dolphin Research Center looks forward to continuing to help him thrive with excellent care here at his new forever home. We are grateful to our members and donors whose support enables us to help him and other animals in need,” said Rita Irwin, Dolphin Research Center president and chief executive officer. "We are grateful to Jet ICU for supporting the air transport to get Ranger here safely and to our other generous donors who are supporting his ongoing care.”
On Friday, 25 March, Jet ICU carefully transported the dolphin from Corpus Christi over to the Florida Keys where the Dolphin Research Center is located. Ranger’s head TSA trainer received him in Florida and will stay with him until he acclimates to his new environment and pod. Ranger will be joining a pod of 25 dolphins that have been also rescued and deemed non-releasable.
“Our labor-intense operation has been well worth it, seeing Ranger improve and interact with our trainers has been an amazing thing to witness,” said Jesse Gilbert, Texas State Aquarium president and chief executive officer. “This story shows how our Wildlife Rescue efforts are making a difference and how skills learned at the Aquarium can be applied to rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals.”
This rescued dolphin calf is a remarkable rescue story made possible by the Wildlife Rescue program at the Texas State Aquarium.
Photos Credit: Texas State Aquarium and Dolphin Research Center