With a little human assistance, 20-year-old Naya gave birth to a calf on Sunday afternoon. The birth was the first one done with human assistance at Shedd, and only the fourth known in the zoo and aquarium community, officials said.
"This assisted birth put all of our research, knowledge and experience of beluga births to the test, and we are pleased at the successful outcome. Without our physical intervention, this calf might not be with us today," said Ken Ramirez, senior vice president of animal collections and training.
The newborn calf, a male, measures 5 feet, 6 inches in length and weighs 152 pounds. He was separated briefly from Naya for observation, but the pair was reunited Monday morning.
"Now that mom and calf are together again, we are watching closely for bonding and nursing to take place. We are doing everything possible to care for both calf and mom," Ramirez said.
Last Monday, another beluga whale, Puiji, gave birth to a 162-pound, five-foot, four-inch male calf.
A whale named Naluark is the father of both newborn calves. Sunday's birth was the second for Naya.