Beluga whale gave birth to healthy calf at Georgia aquarium


A beluga whale named Whisper has given birth to a healthy calf at Georgia Aquarium. Her “not-so-little bundle of joy” weighed 174 pounds at birth, nearly 25 pounds above the average for a newborn calf. The 20-year-old mother and her calf are now getting “much needed rest and time to bond,” the aquarium told Insider. Georgia Aquarium has been closed for months, but posted frequent Twitter updates to keep its fans in the loop during Whisper’s pregnancy. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A beluga whale named Whisper has given birth to a healthy calf at Georgia Aquarium, and they’re already taking adorable photos together. Whisper had a long labor on Sunday and her “not-so-little bundle of joy” was above average in both weight and height, a spokesperson for the aquarium told Insider. While the average newborn beluga weighs between 119 to 145 pounds, Whisper’s calf weighed 174 pounds at birth and “has already begun gaining weight,” the spokesperson said. And while the average length of a beluga calf is 4-foot-5 to 5-foot-1, Whisper’s calf measured 5 feet 4 inches long. In comparison, the average adult beluga weighs between 1,100 to 2,500 pounds, and measures between 11 to 15 feet in length.

Whisper’s calf at Georgia Aquarium.

Georgia Aquarium

“We are so proud of Whisper and overjoyed to welcome her calf to our Georgia Aquarium family,” Dennis Christen, senior director of zoological operations, mammals and birds at Georgia Aquarium, told Insider. “We will be there right alongside the calf as it continues to grow and learn from Whisper.”

Whisper is seen here while giving birth to her calf.

Georgia Aquarium

The 20-year-old mother and her calf are now getting “much needed rest and time to bond,” a spokesperson added. 

The mother-calf bond is thought to be the “central social relationship for belugas,” according to Georgia Aquarium’s website. Belugas give birth to one calf at a time, on an average of every two to four years. These births occur most often between April to July. 

Whisper with her adorable baby calf.

Georgia Aquarium

Belugas nurse about every half hour, and calves depend on their mother’s milk for the first six to 12 months of their life. Dr. Tonya Clauss, the vice president of animal and environmental health at Georgia Aquarium, told Insider that Whisper and her calf are being monitored around the clock. 

Whisper’s calf cuddles up close.

Georgia Aquarium

“The coming weeks are important for the calf’s development and there are milestones to meet,” Clauss added. “So we’re giving mom and calf all the support and time they need.”

Georgia Aquarium’s four other beluga whales — named Maple, Imaq, Qinu, and Nunavik —are currently in a separate area of the aquarium and will be introduced to Whisper and her calf “when it’s appropriate,” a spokesperson said.

Whisper and her calf are now getting much-needed rest and time to bond.

Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium has been closed for months due to the pandemic, but posted frequent Twitter updates to keep its fans in the loop during Whisper’s pregnancy. —Georgia Aquarium (@GeorgiaAquarium) May 5, 2020—Georgia Aquarium (@GeorgiaAquarium) April 16, 2020Eric Gaglione, the vice president of zoological operations at Georgia Aquarium, told Insider that staff also monitored Whisper throughout her pregnancy to further their research on beluga whales. “This birth is important not only for Georgia Aquarium, but for all accredited zoological facilities,” he said. “Our hope is to sustain the beluga whale population in North America so future generations can learn about them.” 

The mother-calf bond is thought to be the “central social relationship for belugas.”

Georgia Aquarium

“Throughout Whisper’s pregnancy we tracked important data about beluga whale gestation that could hopefully make informed conservation decisions about belugas in the wild and their offspring.”

While its doors remain closed to the public, Georgia Aquarium has been delighting animal lovers around the country with its adorable field trips. 

Whisper and her calf are seen here swimming together.

Georgia Aquarium

The aquarium partnered with the Atlanta Humane Society to bring groups of foster puppies and kittens to enjoy the empty aquarium. Meanwhile, over at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, the beluga whales were starstruck when they had the chance to meet penguins for the very first time.



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