CHICAGO — A 139-pound bouncing baby boy has come to the Shedd Aquarium.
The aquarium’s 14-year-old beluga whale, Bella, gave birth to her first calf Friday night, according to a Shedd news release. The calf hasn’t been named yet, but he weighed in at 139 pounds and is 5-foot-3.
First-time beluga moms like Bella often experience a higher calf mortality rate, but the Shedd’s animal care team is “cautiously optimistic” and is providing Bella and her baby with around-the-clock monitoring, according to the aquarium.
The calf was born head-first, which is unusual with belugas, but he quickly swam up to the surface of the water to take his first breath, according to the Shedd. Bella was in labor for 15 hours.
Video of the birth:
The calf and Bella are now spending time away from the public so they can bond and heal. The Shedd’s care team is helping feed the baby beluga every three hours.
“As the calf swam to the surface and took its first breath, it brought with it the palpable hope of new life and fresh beginnings — something we all appreciate,” Bridget Coughlin, president and CEO of Shedd Aquarium, said in the news release.
Another of the aquarium’s beluga whales, 31-year-old Naya, is also due any day now.
The Shedd’s beluga whale pod welcomed Annik just last year. In July, the aquarium said Annik — now 1 year old — is playful and has reached important milestones, like bonding with his mom and nursing.
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