Major concerns over Georgia Aquarium’s beluga calf

The new beluga calf at the Georgia Aquarium nurses at its mother's breast.

The new beluga calf at the Georgia Aquarium nurses at its mother’s breast.

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI

The concern surrounding the beluga whale calf at Georgia Aquarium has heightened.

Born on May 10 – Mother’s Day – the female calf began nursing successfully from her mother, Maris, at five days old.

But as of the last week of May, the baby had only gained 1 pound from her birth weight of 126 pounds.

The calf has now stopped nursing and is still not gaining weight, even with the assistance of the Georgia Aquarium staff supplementing her caloric needs with formula, which mimics beluga milk.

The aquarium team has characterized the calf’s status as “extremely guarded” as she continues to receive around-the-clock monitoring.

This calf is the first viable infant born to parents who, themselves, were born in human care, according to aquarium personnel. The baby’s father is Beethoven, who lived at the Georgia Aquarium for several years before being transferred to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on a breeding loan.

A female whale calf born to Maris and Beethoven at the aquarium in May 2012 died after less than a week. It was Maris’ first pregnancy.


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