Shedd welcomes Tique’s calf!
Please read our most recent update about the dolphin calf.
The little flukes appeared at about 5 this morning, and at 8:47 a.m., Shedd’s Pacific white-sided dolphin Tique gave birth to a calf in the Abbott Oceanarium’s Secluded Bay habitat. In rapid order, the approximately 3-foot, 30-pound dolphin achieved three critical milestones: swimming to the surface, taking its first breath and beginning to swim with mom. Both Tique and the calf, whose gender has not been determined, appear to be doing well.
“We are thrilled about the birth,” said Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal collections and training. Still, he is cautious. “The biggest milestone we will be watching closely for throughout the coming days is the interaction between mom and calf. It’s critical for the calf and mom to bond.”
Another challenging, and crucial, milestone is learning to nurse. With Tique’s guidance, the calf must instinctively find and latch onto mom’s mammary glands for the high-fat, high-calorie milk, containing immunity-building colostrum, that will give it a great start in life. And it must happen as the calf swims alongside her.
Shedd’s animal care and animal health teams are using the knowledge they’ve gained through previous births and information shared through cooperative breeding programs to help Tique and the calf through these milestones. “Caring for these amazing animals has allowed us to learn vital information about these rarely studied marine mammals,” including hard-to-obtain gestation and neonatal data, said Ramirez.
The approximately 12-month pregnancy was the result of Shedd’s partnership with the Miami Seaquarium. Tique, who is 26, was temporarily relocated to Miami as part of a strategic breeding cooperative. Lii, one of Miami Seaquarium’s dolphins, sired the calf.
It’s a rare treat to be able to see Pacific white-sided dolphins at Shedd. There are fewer than 20 of these marine mammals in North American facilities. “Our Pacific white-sided dolphins provide meaningful connections with our guests and help educate millions of people about marine life and aquatic issues,” Ramirez said.
He noted that strategic partnerships with organizations like Miami Seaquarium and other leading aquariums around the world are critical to increasing Pacific white-sided dolphin populations and genetic diversity in zoos and aquariums.
For the next several weeks, Tique and her calf will be monitored around the clock by members of the aquarium’s animal care staff. During this time, for the well-being of the pair, the upper and lower levels of Secluded Bay will be closed to the public.
But watch for more news here as well as on Shedd’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Posted by Karen Furnweger, web editor