Shedd Aquarium, a world-class leader in global marine mammal conservation and research, announced that the youngest member of the aquarium’s Beluga Whale (Delphinapterus leucas) family is a girl. For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to see the baby, beginning Friday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m.
Delivered by mother Mauyak (MAH-yak) on Aug. 27, the five-foot-long calf now weighs more than 205 pounds and is steadily gaining 12 to 15 pounds a week. Improving her milk-intake efficiency, the calf latches onto mom an average of 20 minutes per day. As the calf has mastered nursing, 1,200-pound Mauyak’s appetite has grown as well – nearly tripling her normal diet – eating up to 88 pounds of fish a day.
At approximately 2:00 AM yesterday morning, August 27, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a healthy Beluga calf to mother Mauyak. Shedd’s animal care team estimates that the calf is 4½ feet long and weighs about 150 pounds. Both mother and calf appear to be doing well and will remain under 24-hour observation by the animal health staff in Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium.
“We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of the Shedd Aquarium family. A newborn calf must reach several milestones in its first days and months so we remain cautious; however, the calf has demonstrated incredible progress,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd. “Mauyak is an experienced mom having given birth to two calves in the past, so the labor was quick and went very smoothly.”
“In less than 24 hours after birth, the calf achieved the first critical milestones that we look for, including taking its first breath, bonding with mom and we’ve seen attempts at nursing,” continued Ramirez, who has nearly four decades of marine mammal expertise, including serving as the past president of the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA). “Shedd’s long history of research and care of these animals tells us that these initial behaviors indicate a strong calf; but we will continue to monitor for signs of development, including steady nursing and growth.”
Animal care is Shedd’s top priority, so mother and calf are currently off exhibit in the Secluded Bay habitat of the Abbott Oceanarium. During the first few critical days following a birth, Shedd’s animal care experts do not physically interact with the whales. Instead, the team observes day and night, allowing time for the mother to nurture her newborn and build a strong bond. As a result, the marine mammal staff has not determined the calf’s gender through a physical examination.
Four accredited U.S. aquariums have come together in an effort to save a newborn Beluga whale calf which was found stranded in South Naknek, Alaska last week - this is the first time in history that a live calf has been found and rescued in U.S. waters. Marine mammal experts with a combined 125 years of experience from Shedd Aquarium, SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium immediately answered the Alaska SeaLife Center’s call for assistance to provide around-the-clock care for the calf during this rehabilitation period. The male, 112-pound calf is touch-and-go at this point and considered in critical condition – especially due to his immature immune system, and remains under 24-hour observation.
This is a great example of how the aquarium community comes together to work collaboratively in order do what’s best for an animal in need.
Photo credits 1 and 2 and video: Alaska SeaLife Center. Photo 3: Provided by Shedd Aquarium featuring SeaWorld's Bill Winhall and Shedd Aquarium's Lisa Takaki
Today Shedd Aquarium's baby Beluga calf, Nunavik, turns one year old! A healthy, happy and playful little tyke of 450 lbs., it's hard to believe that Nunavik almost did not survive his first day. Complications with the birth were overcome by Shedd's outstanding veterinary staff. Today Nunavik loves nothing more than mimicing the antics of mom, Puiji, and enrichment time with Shedd aquarists.
Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed its second healthy baby Beluga calf in under seven days. The 152 lb. calf was born with human assistance by animal health and care experts presumably after it appeared that the birth was not progressing smoothly on its own. According to Shedd, this is only the fourth time a Beluga calf has been successfully birthed after human assistance was required in any aquarium.
Sad Update: This baby beluga calf passed away shortly after this announcement. The baby exhibited some strange behavior soon after the birth and despite the best efforts of Shedd's incredible animal health and care experts, it could not be saved. ZooBorns extends its condolences to Shedd Aquarium and its heartbroken staff.
At 6:36 AM yesterday morning, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a bouncing baby beluga calf to 23 year old mother, Puiji! Approximately 5' 4" long and 162lbs., the calf has been determined to be male. For many baby animals, the first few hours, days and even weeks are a critical period and during this time the calf will be under 24 hour observation and the beluga enclosure, Secluded Bay, will live up to its name, off limits to everyone except marine mammal staff. This will provide mother and calf time to bond. In the meantime, you can enjoy these brand spanking new baby beluga pictures courtesy of Shedd.
Watch the actual birth! Note that this is a tiny bit graphic for the particularly squeamish.
Additional information and the latest updates available on Shedd's website!
Beautiful footage of the Vancouver Aquarium's baby beluga, which was born earlier this summer. Additionally, the Vancouver Aquarium is asking Canadians to help them pick a name for the little girl. Submit your suggestions here!
Just a few hours ago at the Vancouver Aquarium, staff watched breathlessly as 20 year old beluga whale Aurora gave birth to a calf. Like all baby belugas, the calf was born with large wrinkles which disappear over the first few weeks.
The unnamed calf will be sharing its enclosure with another calf born in the fall of last year named Tiqa. Researchers are interested to see how the two calves interact and we hope to bring you pictures soon.
Video of actual birth can be watched below the fold. Be warned though: like most mammal births, it's a messy (but joyous!) process.
Any oldie but goody - On August 16th, 2007 the Shedd Aquarium's resident female beluga whale, Mauyak, gave birth to a plump 100lb. 5.5 ft calf. Shortly after the birth, the calf swam to the surface and took its first breath.