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.
Aquarists at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium noticed a large clutch of eggs being guarded by an Adonis catfish, (Acanthicus adonis) on February 27. The fish continued to guard and fan the eggs, which hatched 5 days later. Most of the fry were removed to reserve for grow out, but some were left with the parent, who continued to guard the fry.
The fry that were left with the father stayed near him for another 2 1/2 weeks. Aquarists estimate that the clutch numbered around 1000 individuals. This is Shedd Aquarium’s first birth with this species. The fry on reserve are growing and doing well.
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
You might have seen the first pictures of the new baby Dolphin born at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium on Memorial Day HERE on ZooBorns. Shedd's animal health care teams reported that the calf is nursing regularly, averaging about a minute every hour, which is an appropriate amount for a growing dolphin. Mom Piquet's nutrient-rich milk is loaded with fat that helps the calf gain weight. The calf is also learning to slip-stream, a technique where the calf saves energy by swimming in the wake alongside its mother.
“It’s been very exciting the past few days as our animal care team has seen a number of firsts for the calf,” said Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Animal Care and Training. “The calf started demonstrating early signs of important learning behavior, such as mimicry -- after Piquet vocalized, we heard a definitive vocalization from the calf. Although we’re happy to see this progression, we remain extremely cautious as we continue to keep a close eye on both mom and calf’s development during the critical first weeks.”
On Memorial Day Monday, at around 10:30pm, Chicago's Shedd Aquarium welcomed a new-born Pacific White-sided Dolphin calf to its Oceanarium. Shortly after the birth, the calf swam to the surface, took its first breath, and began to swim and bond with its mother. The gender of the calf has yet to be determined. Animal care staff estimate the calf to be approximately 3-feet in length and weigh approximately 25-pounds. While mother and calf appear to be doing well, this is a critical time for both, and aquarists will monitor them around the clock for several months.
In 1993, the United Nations banned certain types of fishing nets that had previously caused the unnecessary deaths of thousands of these intelligent sea creatures. Pacific White-sided Dolphins are still killed needlessly by Japanese hunting drives.
Photo credit: Shedd Aquarium
Piquest and her calf swimming
A video of Shedd's Beluga whale family watching Piquet and her calf
More photos and information about the birth beneath the fold...
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!
The Shedd Aquarium’s newly hatched Magellanic penguin chicks are small enough to fit into your cupped hands — for now, anyway. These chicks are between 15-24 days old and once full grown will be settled in the renovated penguin habitat in the Oceanarium’s new Polar Play Zone exhibit.
These fast-growing penguins triple in size during their first week. Magellanic penguins can grow to be around 27 inches high and weigh seven to nine pounds.