Throughout my career as an aquatic animal veterinarian, I’ve had the great fortune to work with many beluga whales. One of my early mentors preferred calling them “white whales” because they are the only all-white whale species. These white whales are unique in the whale world for other reasons too. And I believe this is part of why they are so fascinating to get to know.
68 posts categorized "Animals: Whales"
February 19, 2014
November 07, 2013
As veterinary science advances at a clip that rivals human medicine, animals in aquariums and zoos are living not just healthier but also longer lives. Australian lungfish Granddad, shown above in 1933, celebrated his 80th anniversary at Shedd earlier this year. Along with being Shedd’s oldest animal, he’s also the oldest fish in any public zoological facility in the world. But is he a senior or is he just middle-aged? Like 60 is the new 40 for a lot of people, several of Shedd’s longevity-busters are in their prime, thanks to excellent care—and, of course, good genes.
August 29, 2013
Beluga whale Kimalu celebrated her milestone first birthday on Aug. 27.
Although she’ll be a baby in her trainers’ and other Shedd friends’ eyes for years to come, she has come a long way from her 5-foot, 150-pound birth size. At her last exam in March, Kimalu was 6 feet 6 inches long and weighed about 325 pounds. (Because she is so healthy, the animal care and animal health teams haven’t needed to weigh her since then.) As you can see from the photos taken last week, the little whale is plenty plump. And you don’t need a scale or tape measure to see that she’s growing—her mottled appearance indicates that she’s about ready to slough her outgrown skin again.
August 15, 2013
August 03, 2013
Beluga whale Kayavak turns 14 today. If a whale can be willowy, the description fits Kayavak. At 11 feet 8 inches, she is the second longest among Shedd’s belugas, while she maintains a svelte weight of 1,100 pounds. But she can throw that weight around when needed, including during the aquatic show, One World, when you might see her do an impressive breach and backward splash.
Maris Muzzy, senior trainer and cetacean manager, reports that Kayavak hangs out a lot with 3½-year-old male Nunavik “Both Kayavak and Nunavik have been very interactive with trainers outside of sessions,” Maris says, “and they often try to keep Bella and Miki from playing too.”
So now you know: Belugas don’t always share the trainers. As the adult among two subadults and one juvenile in this play group, Kayavak might be throwing her weight—and social rank—around a little bit.
We wish Kayavak, the first successful beluga birth at Shedd, a whale of a wonderful birthday with as many trainers to play with as she wants.
—Karen Furnweger, web editor
July 17, 2013
June 07, 2013
December 14, 2012
December 06, 2012
If you’ve seen Shedd’s new aquatic show, A Holiday Fantasea, you know that Sagu (SAH-goo), our 6½-month-old Pacific white-sided dolphin calf (shown above on the left) gets into the act alongside his mom, Piquet. During the show, you’ll see him engaged in formal training. Lisa Takaki, senior director of marine mammals, says, “He seems to LOVE it and is very attentive—usually!”
October 23, 2012
Mauyak’s calf made her media debut today. About 5 feet long and weighing more than 200 pounds, the 8-week-old slate gray baby beluga drew oohs and aahs from press gathered at the underwater viewing windows of Secluded Bay as she cruised around the 400,000-gallon habitat with mom or confidently sailed off on her own.