Beluga calf born in Chicago

Aug. 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM
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CHICAGO, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Chicago's Shedd Aquarium announced the birth of a healthy beluga whale calf to mother Mauyak at the facility.

Officials with the aquarium's Abbott Oceanarium said the mother and her calf appeared to be doing well after the 2 a.m. Monday delivery and staff are monitoring the pair around the clock.

"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," Ramirez said. "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."

Mauyak was transferred from Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., to the Shedd in 1997 as part of the North American beluga whale breeding cooperative.

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