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Rehabilitated dolphin arrives at Florida Keys facility

MARATHON, FLORIDA (AP) – A juvenile bottlenose dolphin has been flown to the Florida Keys for permanent sanctuary after spending nine months healing at a Texas-based marine rehabilitation centre.

The orphaned male calf, named ‘Ranger’, arrived on Friday at the Florida Keys-based Dolphin Research Center. He was rescued in June 2021 after being discovered stranded in waters around Goose Island State Park in Texas suffering from an underlying respiratory infection and dehydration.

He was found near his dead mother and was transported to the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center.

The National Marine Fisheries Service determined the dolphin could not survive in the wild and chose the Dolphin Research Center to care for the marine mammal for the rest of his life.

“We provide sanctuary for any dolphins in need of a forever home,” said DRC’s vice president of animal care and training Linda Erb.

Sarah Zigmond of the Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue Center feeds Ranger, a two-year-old bottlenose dolphin, PHOTO: AP

“Often times when a dolphin like this is found at such a young age, he has not learned the skills to catch his own fish.”

Operations coordinator for Texas State Aquarium Sarah Zigmond was at DRC for Ranger’s arrival.

“I’ve been with Ranger since his rescue and so to see the culmination of his entire rescue and rehabilitation come to fruition in his new forever home made me quite emotional, but it was all happy emotions,” Zigmond said.

After an initial monitoring period in a medical quarantine pool to build up his immune system, Ranger will be slowly introduced to other resident dolphins and acclimate to the dolphin lagoons in Florida Bay.