Meet Shedd's new baby beluga
At 6:36 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14, we welcomed Puiji’s calf into the Shedd family. Mom and calf are doing well.
When Puiji’s behavior changed Sunday, Ken Ramirez, Shedd’s senior vice president of animal collections and training decided to spend the night at the aquarium, joining marine mammals staffers already observing Puiji in Secluded Bay. Around 11:30 p.m., the 23-year-old whale went into labor, at intervals crunching her nearly 11-foot frame to move the process along.
About 4:30 a.m., the calf’s head appeared. Beluga calves almost always enter the world tail first, an adaptation for underwater birth. Divers were ready in case of complications. But with a big push by Puiji, the calf popped out and went to the surface for its first breath. Milestone no. 1 accomplished. Then he began to swim and bond with Mom – milestone no. 2. Early Tuesday morning, he passed the real cliff-hanger milestone and began to nurse. Puiji is an attentive mom, constantly at his side to help him negotiate this new world.
The calf is 5 feet 4 inches long and weighs 162 pounds. To give the little whale the best chance for success, Secluded Bay has been made really secluded, with privacy panels around the pool on the walkway and at the Polar Play Zone underwater viewing windows. But we’ll bring you photos and videos, along with regular updates.
And we’re still waiting for beluga Naya to give birth. So check in early and often.
Posted by Karen Furnweger, web editor