ORLANDO, Fla. - A rescued bottlenose baby dolphin named Ridgway is a big hit in his new pool at SeaWorld Orlando.
FOX 35’s Amanda McKenzie went behind the scenes to meet the folks who nursed him back to health after he almost lost his life when he was caught in a crab trap.
"He’s recovered well," said Nik Ricci, senior animal care specialist at SeaWorld. "He has really gone through probably one of the most traumatic injuries that any baby dolphin could ever go through and he is incredible. He is a fighter and he has beat the odds."
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In July 2022, the baby dolphin was orphaned and caught in a crab trap not far from the shore in Clearwater. He suffered serious injuries to the back half of his body, his eye and his tail.
Lifeguards and a crew from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium rescued him.
Rescuers from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium carry the young dolphin ashore. (Photo credit: FOX 13 News staff)
"When Ridgway first came in he was so weak," Ricci said. "He sustained so much damage that he couldn’t even swim."
After months of therapy and treatment at SeaWorld, Ridgway is thriving in his new pool with other adult dolphins. One female named Dash, has become his surrogate mother.
"He copies pretty much anything that Dash does," Ricci said. "So if Dash makes a little jump, Ridgway makes a little jump too.""It’s great," Ricci said. "People get to come out here and watch him. He gets to watch them and he also gets to copy and learn to be a dolphin from these other animals here in the pool."
The National Marine Fishery Service said Ridgway is not eligible to be released back into the wild, so he will live out his days in his new home.