Baby beluga at Shedd almost ready for primetime

October 23, 2012

Starting Friday visitors to the Shedd Aquarium can get a glimpse of their two-month-old beluga whale. Though the aquarium recently confirmed the calf is female, they've yet to name it.

Visitors will be able to watch the whale from an underwater observation room, above-water viewing is still walled off due to potential disruption to the whales' routine.

The calf is sharing a tank with two adult belugas. One of the adults is the calf's mother, Mauyak, while the other is Naya, a mature female beluga who acts as a surrogate mother to some calves born at the Shedd. Ken Ramirez, executive vice president of animal care and training, says all mature female whales and dolphins have an ability called "spontaneous lactation": when around calves for three to seven days they begin to produce milk. The aquarium encourages Naya to act as a surrogate to give older mothers like Mauyak a chance to recover from childbirth more quickly.