CAMERON PARISH, La. (KPLC) - A four-week-old dolphin found just to the east of Holly Beach back in May is now swimming with a new pod in Indianapolis.
A man who found the dolphin in the sand back in May called the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding network, which quickly came out to the beach, put the infant on a stretcher and drove him nearly three hours for treatment in Galveston, where they saved his life.
“A very weak little dolphin when he was found, so he needed around the clock care,” said Shauna Gallagher, with the Indianapolis Zoo. “Every minute of the day someone was with him. They put in 6,000 hours caring for him in Texas.”
Gallagher is the dolphin area manager for the zoo. She told KPLC the Stranding Network had to monitor his extensive sunburns and feed him by hand every two hours.
That’s one of the reasons they call him “the miracle dolphin.”
It’s also where he gets his official name, “Trooper.”
“Trooper has a very special story,” Gallagher said. “He had a hard beginning, hence his name: Trooper.”
It was decided that Trooper would never be able to make it on his own in the wild and wouldn’t be returned to the Gulf. Instead he was put on a FedEx plane and flown to Indianapolis, where another big challenge waited.
“We have a pod here that could help Trooper grow and learn how to become a dolphin and he is doing very very well.”
It wasn’t an easy move for Trooper.
“He didn’t know exactly quite how to act as a dolphin because he hadn’t been with a dolphin since 4 weeks of age,” said Gallagher.
The 12 dolphins living at the Indianapolis took to Trooper.
The pod became his teachers and he’s healthy and, from all appearances, happy.
He will always have the scars from the day he washed up on a Cameron Parish beach, though.
“You will see on Trooper that he does have a marbled back,” Gallagher said. “That’s from the sunburn that he had. He still does have the scarring so as he gets older it is the easiest way to tell them apart.”
Those scars don’t seem to slow him down and won’t keep him from living a long time
Please report all stranded marine mammals and sea turtles (live or dead) to CWN at (504) 235-3005.
Learn more about Trooper and the other dolphins at the Indianapolis Zoo HERE.