Happy Birthday, Nellie!

Here's an uplifting article originally posted on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor's website.  (I was lucky enough to be given the chance meet Nellie when she was 54 years old, and she was the world's oldest dolphin even then! Happy 58th, Nellie... Here's wishing for many more to come!!)

Marineland Aquarium's Dolphin Nellie is the World's Oldest Dolphin in Human Care
By Francesca Allegra
St. Augustine, FL - Nellie, the world’s oldest dolphin in human care, is approaching 58 years of age and will celebrate her birthday with Marineland staff and visitors. The public is invited to join the festivities at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, at Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center, now an affiliate of the Georgia Aquarium. The celebration will include a fish-and-ice cake made especially for the birthday girl, along with a round of “Happy Birthday” performed by all of her friends and fans. Cake more suitable to the tastes of her human party guests will follow. General admission rates apply.

As the 9th animal listed in North American Bottlenose Dolphin Studbook, Nellie has amazed even those closest to her with her longevity. When Nellie was born at Marineland on February 27, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had recently been inaugurated as America’s thirty-fourth president and Walt Disney’s original animated film Peter Pan had just been released. Later that year, the first James Bond novel was published, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II occurred, and the first color televisions went on sale. Nellie has lived through the beginnings of rock music, manned space flight, and the rapid advancement of communication through technology.

Having already lived more than twice the average lifespan of a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin in the wild, Nellie continues to eat well, socialize with the other dolphins, interact with staff and guests, and play with enrichment devices daily.

“Nellie’s 58th birthday is not only an exciting event for our staff at Marineland, but more importantly a milestone for the zoological community. Every staff member who gets to work with Nellie on a daily basis realizes how lucky they are,” stated Curator Kevin Roberts. “While we have four other dolphins in their forties here at Marineland, Nellie still stands out as an icon for geriatric dolphins. Each birthday that we celebrate with her means that much more to everyone in our field, and we hope to celebrate many more.”
Nellie starred in TV shows at Marineland's original dolphin stadium beginning in the 1950's, 60's and beyond, as well as in Timex watch commercials in the 1960's. She remains the mascot for Jacksonville University and has received honorary undergraduate and graduate degrees from the school. Marineland staff members are thrilled to celebrate each birthday with Nellie, and recognize that every day spent with this extraordinary animal is to be appreciated as there are no guarantees we will be able to share another.
Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center was acquired by the Georgia Aquarium in January 2011 and operates as a subsidiary of the world’s largest aquarium in Atlanta.

For information on Nellie and Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center or to make reservations, call (904) 471-1111 or visit www.marineland.net.


Marineland’s original steel oceanariums were the first structures of their type in the world and were built to house and display multiple species of marine life, replicating the variety of life to be found off the coast of northeast Florida. Marineland continues its tradition of creating state of the art facilities with the Dolphin Conservation Center. Today’s guests are able to interact with dolphins from around and within their habitat, even swimming with the animals. Efforts in the disciplines of education and research are shared, as guests view educational signage placed throughout the facility or are introduced to the animals via interactive encounters. In both cases the plights and challenges facing wild dolphins are key messages conveyed to inspire the general public to become informed and active in the conservation of marine animals and their natural environments.


The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards; offering engaging and exciting guest experiences promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. The Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.
To view Marineland's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to: http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-1030-Marineland's_Dolphin_Conservation_Center