It’s a male!
The Shedd Aquarium on Tuesday announced the gender of its newborn Pacific white-sided dolphin. The two-week-old calf makes the fifth dolphin of its kind at the Shedd.
The gender of the calf was determined by visual observations performed by Shedd’s animal care and health team. Although the staff has not confirmed the calf’s gender through a physical exam, Shedd officials said because dolphin genitals are internal, the animal care team looked for subtle markings on the underside of the calf to determine its gender.
“We had to wait for him to swim right in front of the windows to present his genital area to us, which he does sometimes when he is nursing,” said Ken Ramirez, Shedd's executive vice president of animal care and training.
First-time mother Piquet gave birth to her calf on Memorial Day around 10:35 p.m.
The calf is the third male in the North American Breeding Cooperative, which includes the Shedd Aquarium, Sea World (Texas), Miami Seaquarium and Vancouver Aquarium.
The calf, seen tucked under his mother’s underside as she swam in the Secluded Bay area has had a very progressive two weeks. Ramirez said the calf has grown to be very independent spending only 70-75 percent of his time with his mother and is now taking in more milk.
"We’ve been watching for a lot of major milestones, nursing has been an important one and then growth has been an important one," said.
The calf has gained at least 10 pounds in the last week. Observations of the calf remain hands-off he said.
"The mom has done such a good job of taking care of the calf that we actually haven’t had to put our hands on the calf at all," Ramirez said.
The calf has yet to be named. Ramirez said the Shedd team doesn’t consider the name until the calf is much older and they learn more about its personality.
While the calf is too young to breed he marks significance to the study and research of the less than 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins in the North American Breeding Cooperative. Andrea Smalec, director of communications and public relations for Shedd, said his birth contributes to the body of knowledge for the Shedd.
Ramirez said Shedd goers won’t get their chance to see the calf for several more weeks while the calf is still in its critical observation period.
"Once we get past the one-month mark we will probably breathe a little easier," he said.