About Our Dolphins
the Indianapolis Zoo has nine Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in its
collection. The adults range from 22-24 years old and weigh between
300- 500 pounds. They each have unique personalities and physical
characteristics that allow the marine mammal staff to tell them apart.
The adult male is Kimo, and the adult females are Nova, Ripley and China.
Four young dolphins have been born at the Zoo. Nova’s female calf
Kalei (KAH-LAY’) was born in November 2000. China gave birth to
another female later named Indy in August 2001, while Ripley produced a
male, Jett, in February 2002. An orphaned young male dolphin
named Taz (right) came to the Zoo in 2011. China gave birth to a male
calf in summer 2012, and he has not yet been named.
All of the adult dolphins arrived in Indianapolis in 1988. Since then,
they have occupied the Dolphin Pavilion. As built, the Pavilion stands
80 feet high at its maximum point and has 20 foot high skylights that
stretch across the south side of the structure providing natural sunlight
for the dolphins. The facility holds 2.3 million gallons of carefully
monitored and filtered saltwater, including one million gallons in the main
performance pool. This pool is 134 feet long, 56 feet wide and 27 feet
deep. It could hold more than 100 school buses or six average ranch
style houses! Three other pools hold the rest of the 1.3 million
gallons of water, including two holding pools and a special medical pool
that can be used if marine mammal staff or veterinary staff need to get
“hands on” for routine or special medical procedures.
In 2005, the
pavilion was redesigned to include a
walk-through dolphin dome that is located in the
center of the large performance pool.
The dolphins are cared for by a specially trained marine mammal staff headed
by a curator of marine mammals. This group of trainers also cares for
the Zoo’s seals, sea lions, walruses and polar bears. All of the Zoo's
marine mammals are wonderful ambassadors for their
wild counterparts and help us deliver important
information about the Zoo's animal conservation
The Indianapolis Zoo is accredited by the Association and Zoos and
Aquariums (AZA) and is also accredited as a habitat botanical garden by the
Association of Museums (AAM).
For more information about dolphins, we recommend
visiting these web sites:
• To learn more about helping to conserve habitats,
• For more information
on dolphin research, check out the
Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
• For information on helping stranded marine
mammals, visit the
Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network
Photo by Abbie Mingus