Shedd Aquarium's new dolphin calf is growing, active and already
passing important milestones. And after days of scrutiny, the
marine mammal and animal health teams determined that the
two-week-old Pacific white-sided dolphin is male, making him one of
just three males of this species in North American aquariums and
The extreme minority of males in this species hasn't made the
cooperative breeding program easy, which is why Ken Ramirez,
executive vice president of animal care and training at Shedd, says
this calf is particularly exciting.
"This species is particularly important for us to study because
it's not found near the coast, which makes it difficult to study
them in nature," Ramirez says. "Studying them here means we can
help make good decisions about things like fishing and boat traffic
to secure their safety in the wild."
Since his birth on Memorial Day, the calf has spent almost every
swimming moment stuck to his mother Piquet's side. He is the first
baby for Piquet, 24. She was naturally inseminated at Miami
Seaquarium by the calf's father, Lii, after spending about year
there. The team at Shedd says it is proud of Piquet's natural
mothering skills. "He's almost entirely taken care of by Mom," says
Ramirez. "She's much better at nursing than we are."
However, just like any child growing up, he has begun to
demonstrate more independence as the pair begins to spend a few
moments apart during the day, marking a significant point in his
Now estimated at about 30 pounds, the small, healthy boy whizzes
quickly around Secluded Bay with mom close by. He'll end up
weighing between 250 and 275 pounds.
His name has not yet been determined. Ramirez says it's all
about studying the calf's personality over time to choose a fitting
The calf will remain off exhibit for another few weeks as staff
continues to monitor his health but Ramirez says they hope to put
him on public view in July. Follow the baby's development at the
Shedd's website, Facebook page or on Twitter.
Aurelie Corinthios is an intern at Chicago Parent and a student at the Medill School of Journalism.
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