May 7, 2016
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium welcomed a Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) calf on April 18th at 9:14 AM. Found in the cool waters of the North Pacific Ocean, Pacific white-sided dolphins are distinguished by their black backs, gray sides and white bellies. Within seconds of birth, the calf swam for air then bonded with its mother. Animal care observes could not determine the calf’s gender, but estimated that it is approximately 3 feet long and weighs about 25 pounds. This was the first pregnancy for mother Katrl (pronounced kuh-TREHL) as she gave birth after three hours of labor in the Secluded Bay habitat of Shedd’s Abbott Oceanarium. This birth was significant in that a Pacific white-sided dolphin birth has never been witnessed in natural settings and only 16 Pacific white-sided dolphins are accredited in North American zoological facilities. “As soon as those little tail flukes appear, your heart begins to race, and you know it’s only a matter of time before you are about to witness something incredibly amazing,” said Lisa Takaki, senior director of marine mammals and serves as the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s studbook keeper for the total population of Pacific white-sided dolphins in accredited facilities. Both the mother and calf are off public view to allow for bonding, privacy and observation, but there is much more to see like Shedd’s sea otters, penguins and beluga whales! Follow updates on Katrl on their website, Facebook, and Twitter!
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