Male dolphin calf successfully completed critical steps in growth

The new calf at John G. Shedd Aquarium is only five days old and already making a big splash.

On Friday morning, Shedd Aquarium revealed that the baby calf, weighing in at 25 to 30 pounds, is a male. Currently, it is not possible to determine the sex of a calf before it is born. His gender was discovered through visual observation conducted by the animal care staff.

The Pacific white-sided dolphin calf has successfully completed several critical milestones so far. Some of these milestones include taking his first breath, bonding with his mother, nursing and learning to slipstream, which allows the calf to swim alongside his mother in her wake to save energy. Recently, the baby calf began swimming farther away from his mother and showing some independence, although the mother calf still keeps a watchful eye on her young.

In a statement released by the aquarium, executive vice president of animal care, Tim Binder, says the staff is encouraged by what they are seeing in the calf’s first few days of life.

“It’s an exciting time and a great privilege to be able to learn from both mom and calf through these observations, which are only possible by having these animals in our care. As the calf becomes more comfortable, we will eventually begin to introduce him to additional habitats as well as our other dolphins,” Binder says. “In the meantime, the calf is thriving under the attentive care of his mother.”

The calf is unnamed, and will not have a name for a few months. Usually, these animals are named after a geographical location or names are derived from a certain language. The calf’s mother’s name is Piquet [pee-KEHT], which comes from the language of the Tlingit. The name means “female of small stature.”

Piquet gave birth to another calf, Sagu [SAH-goo] in 2012. He is also thriving at Shedd.

For now, both the baby calf and his mother are off public view while they remain under 24-hour observation until the calf’s first critical period has ended.

Check out this video and listen to Tim Binder explain the critical steps that calf completed.