Dolphin and Beluga Whale Deliver Subsequent Babies at Shedd Aquarium


Within twelve hours, a beluga whale and a Pacific white-sided dolphin at Shedd Aquarium both delivered calves. The arrivals follow the birth of another beluga calf just ten days earlier, on Friday, August 21. In an increasingly urbanized and nature-deficient world, the births are part of a deep commitment to understanding and connecting the public with these two incredible species for generations to come.


Sunday evening, Naya (NYE-ah), a 31-year-old beluga, delivered two calves -- an incredibly rare event that scientists believe occurs at a rate of less than 1% for the species. Naya gave birth to her first calf at 7:00 p.m. Hours later, she delivered a second calf that was stillborn.

At just 66 pounds, the first-born calf is considered premature -- a result of twinning, which brings a unique set of developmental hurdles. Naya is currently swimming with her surviving calf. Our hope is to witness nursing and bonding between the two, and significant growth in the calf, in coming days. Naya is recovering normally following the two deliveries.

There is no documented case of twin beluga calves born in the wild. To our knowledge, Naya’s calf represents just the second known instance of a surviving twin in any cetacean species.

Monday morning, Katrl (kuh-TREHL), a 33-year-old Pacific white-sided dolphin, delivered her calf at around 6:20 a.m. after about two hours of labor. Upon delivery, Katrl immediately helped the calf swim to the surface to take its first breath. The animal care team has already observed mom and calf swimming together and will be watching for nursing behavior in the hours to follow. Katrl is recovering normally.

“As we celebrate our new additions, we recognize the need to do all we can to support the mothers, and calves, so that they thrive,” said Peggy Sloan, chief animal operations officer at Shedd Aquarium. “In an extraordinary year of unpredictability, Naya’s historic pregnancy highlights our need to understand beluga reproduction. It also underscored that every birth is significant and contributes to advancing science. Even with a difficult outcome, such as the stillbirth of one of Naya’s twins, we understand the cycle of life and loss and continuously strive to learn from these experiences.”

Animal care and veterinary experts will continue around-the-clock monitoring to ensure that Naya, Katrl and their respective calves have all the support that they need. Scientific observation of the calves will continue as the animal care team collects data on nursing rates, calf growth, mother/calf interactions, etc.

Additional updates on all new arrivals will be shared via Shedd’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages. Shedd will also make an announcement when guests may have the opportunity to come in and see the calves for themselves.

Every birth at Shedd Aquarium is significant - both for our community and for our world. The aquarium continues to deeply invest in the health and welfare of all 32,000 animals who live there – including these new calves. This responsibility has even greater weight during this unprecedented time. We are grateful to our community who supports and enables this work through their visits, memberships and direct contributions. For those interested in providing important support during this time, you can learn more about ways to give at

Shedd’s Daring Dolphin Calf Gets a Name


What do you get a Dolphin calf for the holidays? A name!

After a full week of voting, Cetacean fans everywhere have spoken. The name for the newest member of Shedd Aquarium’s marine mammal family, a male Pacific White-Sided dolphin calf born on June 1, 2015, was revealed on December 16 during a live broadcast from the aquarium’s Secluded Bay habitat.

Nearly 3,500 votes were cast during the naming contest, and Makoa (Ma-ko-ah)—meaning ‘fearless’ in Hawaiian—was the clear winner over another exotic favorite, Kolohe (Ko-low-hey), meaning ‘rascal’.




Photo Credits: Brenna Hernandez / Video Credit: Sam Cejtin

 The six-month-old Makoa, who has nearly doubled in size since his birth and weighs a healthy 108 pounds, continues to achieve important milestones, such as bonding with mom Piquet, increasing in size, eating some whole fish, and interacting with trainers and fellow dolphins. As one of the most adventurous calves to have ever been born at Shedd, he has certainly lived up to his new name.

“Naming the Dolphin calf is Shedd’s way of welcoming him into the family, while also raising awareness about this fascinating open-water species that is extremely difficult to study in the wild,” said Tim Binder, executive vice president of animal care.

“With only four accredited North-American institutions caring for less than 20 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, our understanding of this taxon is very limited, making any predictions regarding the resiliency of the species or disturbances in their native habitat very difficult. Observing the animals in human care increases our understanding of their biology, behavior and sensitivity to environmental change, allowing us to inform protection management strategies for those in the wild, as well as to provide better care for the animals in accredited zoos and aquariums.”

For more than 20 years, Shedd Aquarium has participated in collaborative efforts that help the scientific community better understand the hearing, acoustics, social behavior, reproductive physiology and immune system of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, providing a window into this breathtaking species.

According to Binder, “Makoa will be an ambassador for Dolphins everywhere, helping the aquarium raise awareness about the importance of research and conservation, as well as furthering Shedd’s mission of connecting people to the living world, and inspiring them to make a difference.”

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A Dolphin Calf Joins the Pod at Brookfield Zoo

Dolphin 1

Brookfield Zoo, managed by the Chicago Zoological Society, welcomed a newborn male dolphin calf on October 16. The calf, born to 31-year-old mother Tapeko, is approximately 40 pounds (18 kg) and 3.5 feet long (107 cm). Mother and calf are currently off exhibit, and the zoo’s dolphin presentations have been temporarily canceled to allow Tapeko and her calf time to bond and get acquainted with the other dolphins in the group.

Following the birth, it is important for the calf to demonstrate several key milestones, including nursing and slipstreaming, which is when the calf rests in the hydrodynamic wake made behind the mother as she swims. This allows the mother to use her own energy to help the calf glide behind her. Marine mammal and veterinary staff have observed the new calf displaying these behaviors and, encouraged by what they have seen so far, are cautiously optimistic that the little male is on the right track.

“We know that the first 30 days are extremely critical in the calf’s life,” said Rita Stacey, marine mammal curator for the Chicago Zoological Society. This time frame accounts for the largest rate of loss to dolphin populations both in the wild and under professional care, as compared to any other demographic age group. Beyond the critical first 30 days, the first year is also filled with challenges and milestones the calf must reach. 

Dolphin 2Photo credits: Jim Schultz / Chicago Zoological Society

The little one is well cared-for. Tapeko is an experienced mother, having successfully reared four calves, one of which was her grandson as well as her daughters Allison, 7, and Noelani, 9, who are both members of the dolphin group living at Brookfield Zoo.

“This is an important time for our breeding group of females,” added Stacey. “As an experienced mom, Tapeko is able to demonstrate to the younger females how to care for a newborn calf.” This is especially timely as Spree, 11, is expected to give birth to her first calf later this fall. 

New Baby Dolphin a Success for Research Technology at Dolphin Cove

Discovery Cove Baby Dolphin.jpg

A 3.5 foot-long, 35-pound Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin was born at Discovery Cove in Florida on November 30 at 10:22 a.m. -- and it's a girl! The little calf is continuing to develop, nurse and bond with her mother.

Her birth is notable, because it marks the first time a Dolphin at Discovery Cove has successfully given birth to a calf conceived through the use of “sperm-sexing” research, which involves separating sperm carrying a female-producing X chromosome from sperm carrying a male-producing Y chromosome. This scientific advancement affords Discovery Cove the opportunity to manage its species’ genetic diversity and social environment.

Scientists at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center in San Diego, pioneered the ability to preferentially produce female or male Dolphin offspring though sperm-sexing and artificial insemination. The baby represents the 15th Dolphin calf produced worldwide using sex pre-selection technology, and the 25th Dolphin born at Discovery Cove since the park opened in 2000. Discovery Cove’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, has one of the most successful dolphin breeding programs in the world.

Photo Credit: Discovery Cove at SeaWorld 

Dolphin Calf Makes Waves at SeaWorld San Diego


An Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin calf is making waves at SeaWorld San Diego.  After a 12-month gestation period, the calf was born to a 29-year-old Dolphin named Cascade on November 5 in a behind-the-scenes pool at the marine-life park.  Trainers and veterinarians at SeaWorld report that the mother and baby are in good health and are swimming together and bonding. This birth marks Cascade’s fifth calf born at SeaWorld San Diego. 




Trainers monitor the mother and baby round-the-clock documenting respirations and nursing frequency.  The gender of the calf will be determined in the coming weeks.  The calf is estimated to weigh approximately 30 pounds.

Bottlenose Dolphins are mammals, so they give birth to live young. Mother Dolphins nurse their young with milk.  Dolphin populations are widespread, occuring throughout most of the world's temperate and tropical oceans.  At this time, most populations are stable, so Dolphins are not endangered.

Photo Credits:  SeaWorld San Diego

Update! Shedd Aquarium's Baby Dolphin Nurses


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.”

Nurse 2




Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium

Here's a video of the baby nursing as they swim.

Read more about the baby dolphin after the jump:

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A Memorable Memorial Day For A New Mother Dolphin

Shedd Dolphin Pup 1

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.

Shedd Dolphin Pup 3

Shedd Dolphin Pup 9
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...

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SeaWorld Rescues Stranded Newborn Dolphin

Dolphin Feeding

SeaWorld's animal rescue team traveled to Three Sisters Island in Florida yesterday afternoon to rescue a stranded newborn Bottlenose Dolphin. Weighing slightly less than 35 pounds, the male calf was found stranded in shallow waters under a mangrove. SeaWorld’s animal care experts believe the baby to be no more than five days old due to its size, the upright stature of its dorsal fin and the attached umbilical cord at the time of rescue. Preliminary tests have showed no major health issues but to ensure the young animal gets the essential nutrients he needs, SeaWorld’s animal team has been manually tube-feeding the baby every two hours.

Dolphin calves typically nurse from their mother until they are 12 to 18 months old. The youngster was probably separated from his mother before becoming stranded. The successful rescue was made possible by a collaborative effort: the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute initially checked on the state of the young calf, and SeaWorld was able to rescue it shortly after – following authorization by NOAA Fisheries Service. SeaWorld's animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. This is the first Bottlenose Dolphin to be rescued this year.

Pedro Holding DolphinPhoto and video credits: Nick Gollattscheck / SeaWorld.

Ariel the Dolphin and Her New Calf Frolic!

Dolphin Mom Arial and Calf - SeaWorld2

In late July, SeaWorld Orlando welcomed a newborn Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin calf to mother Ariel. Mother and calf have been seen nursing and playing, indicating they are bonding well. To ensure mother and calf have some privacy and nuturing support, the pair are currently being kept in the Dolphin Nursery, which they share only with other pregnant dolphins and new mothers with calves.

Dolphin Mom Arial and Calf - SeaWorld1

Dolphin Mom Arial and Calf - SeaWorld3

Dolphin Mom Arial and Calf - SeaWorld4Photo credits: SeaWorld Orlando

Everybody Loves A Baby Dolphin!

Dolphin Nova-calf 1-Mike Crowther (1)

At the Indianapolis Zoo in Indiana, the Marsh Dolphin Theater is closed and Dolphin Shows are temporarily cancelled  but for a really wonderful reason: the birth of an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin at approximately 5am on the morning of Friday, June 3, to mother Nova. Marine Mammal staff believe the calf is a male, and he is doing well so far. He has been nursing regularly and appears healthy. The first photos are in by their own president & CEO, Mike Crowther!  

Dolphin Nova-calf 2011-2-Mike Crowther (1)

Photo Credit: Mike Crowther

Quiet time is needed for mother and baby to bond during the first crucial days of life. The staff is optimistic, but it's early on in this process, so caution is indicated.  Information on the condition of the baby will be posted on their website. It's very relaxing to watch the video of mom and the baby below.


Dolphins are endangered for several reasons, all related to humans. Pollution of rivers, seas and oceans by man is one. Since they are the highest on the food chain, everything they consume creates the highest level of contaminants in their bodies, which weaken their reproductive systems and make them far less resistant to disease.

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